Kobus kob 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Kobus kob
Species Authority: (Erxleben, 1777)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Kob
French Cobe de Buffon
Taxonomic Notes: Three subspecies are usually recognized: White-eared Kob (K. k. leucotis); Uganda Kob (K. k. thomasi); and Buffon’s Kob (K. k. kob). Lorenzen et al. (2007) question the taxonomic status of K. k. kob and K. k. thomasi as two separate subspecies due to the joint evolutionary history of their mtDNA sequences. Birungi (1999) proposed that the Puku (Kobus vardonii) might be a subspecies of the Kob rather than a distinct species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.P. (Antelope Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment)
Listed as Least Concern as overall the species is still widespread and relatively numerous, yet it is highly vulnerable to poaching and habitat loss which has caused severe population declines. While the status of the Kob will not likely not change as long as there is effective protection and management for the various protected areas in which the species can be found, its future is highly dependent of these conservation measures. The species could easily become threatened if current conservation measures cease to be effective or disappear altogether. There is particular cause for concern as regards the status of Buffon's Kob.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Kob have a patchy distribution ranging from Senegal and Guinea-Bissau to Uganda, southern Sudan, and south-east Ethiopia. The ranges of the three subspecies are as follows (following East 1999 and Fischer in press):

K. k. kob (Buffon’s or Western Kob) has the widest distribution range, from Senegal to Central African Republic and DR Congo. They are now extinct in the Gambia and Sierra Leone and most likely in southern Mauritania.

K. k. thomasi (Uganda Kob) occurs in north-east DR Congo, south-west Sudan and widely throughout Uganda. They once ranged into south-west Kenya, and lakeside areas of north-west Tanzania, but are now extinct there.

K. k. leucotis (White-eared Kob) have the most restricted range of the three subspecies, occcurring in Sudan, south-west Ethiopia and extreme north-east Uganda.
Countries occurrence:
Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Ethiopia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; South Sudan; Sudan; Togo; Uganda
Regionally extinct:
Gambia; Kenya; Tanzania, United Republic of
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:East (1999) estimated numbers of Buffon's Kob at 95,000 and generally declining (with the exception of a few protected areas). For example, Kob numbers in the Comoé N.P. in Côte d’Ivoire declined by more than 80% within 20 years (Fischer and Linsenmair 2001). Estimated total numbers of this subspecies exceeded 225,000 in the late 1980s (East 1999).

Similarly, the population of the White-eared Kob has been estimated at more than 100,000 (East 1999). An aerial survey of part of Southern Sudan carried out by WCS in 2007 produced a population estimate of >753,0000 (Fay et al. 2007).

Numbers of Uganda Kob within parks and reserves may be more stable, with an estimated total population size of 100,000 (East 1999).

Today, Kob live in many isolated populations, most of which are smaller than 1,000 animals. In the late 1990s only two regions in West Africa contained populations of more than 10,000 individuals (in Senegal and Cameroon), while only the Uganda population of K. k. thomasi contained more than 10,000 animals (East 1999).

Kobs can reach high densities when well protected in areas of favourable habitat, ranging from 15-40 animals/km² (Fischer in press; and references therein); however, in areas of heavy hunting pressure, densities decline to less than 1/km² (Fischer 1998). The highest densities of Kob (1,000/km²) have been reported around drinking sites in the dry season (Fryxell 1987).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Typical habitat includes riverine grasslands and floodplains of major rivers; grasslands; seasonal floodplains and grasslands near water within savanna woodlands (East 1999). Kobs are almost exclusively grazers, and confined to regions that have year-round access to water (Fischer in press). Social organization in the Kob is dependent on density and includes two discrete mating systems, changing from a lek system at high densities (>14 animals/km²) to a resource-defence system at lower densities (Fischer in press; and references therein).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The sedentary nature of Kobs and their tendency to occur in relatively large concentrations make them highly susceptible to hunting. Buffon's Kob, in particular, has been eliminated from large parts of its former range by poaching for meat and now survives mainly in and around protected areas. Poaching has caused large-scale declines of key populations in areas such as Comoe National Park (Côte d'Ivoire) and northern and eastern Central African Republic during the 1990s (East 1999; Fischer in press).

Loss of habitat to the expansion of settlements, agricultural development and livestock is another major cause of population reduction. For example, the Uganda Kob formerly occurred in south-western Kenya and north-western Tanzania in grasslands alongside Lake Victoria, but was exterminated by the spread of settlement and agricultural development.

Droughts, disruption of the natural flooding regime (e.g. the construction of the Maga dam on the Logone floodplain, Cameroon), and outbreaks of rinderpest have also been cited as significant causes of population decline (East 1999; Fischer in press).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: While the kob is highly susceptible to hunting, loss of habitat and disruption of the natural flooding regime, it has the ability to recover its numbers rapidly from very low levels with effective protection. For example in Cameroon, the population of Waza National Park decreased from 25,000 in 1962 to 2,000 in 1988-94. This resulted from a general drying out of its habitat caused by droughts and disruption of the natural flooding regime from 1979 by the construction of the Maga dam on the Logone floodplain, which formed Lake Maga. Additional mortality of the Waza population was caused by poaching and the 1982-83 rinderpest outbreak. Since 1994, the Netherlands-funded IUCN/CML Waza-Logone project has investigated rehabilitation of the floodplain by release of excess water from Lake Maga and the Logone River. By 1997, the Kob population was increasing in response to the reflooding activities of this project. While large-scale rehabilitation of the Waza-Logone floodplain is contemplated, this may not be possible unless increasing security problems and a degenerating social climate in the region are overcome (Scholte et al. 2007).

Protected areas important for the survival of Buffon’s Kob, include: Niokolo-Koba (Senegal), Comoe (Côte d’Ivoire), Arly-Singou (Burkina Faso), Mole and Bui (Ghana), Pendjari (Benin), Waza and Benoué and Faro National Parks of the North Province (Cameroon), Zakouma (Chad), and Manovo-Gounda-St. Floris and Sangba (Central African Republic) (East 1999; Fischer in press).

Less than 1% of the total population of White-eared Kob occurs in protected areas, such as the Boma and Badingilo National Parks in south-east Sudan (East 1999). Recent surveys in south-eastern Sudan suggest that, despite the civil war, the white-eared kob populations still survive in good numbers. Further surveys are urgently required to clarify the white-eared kob’s current status and investigate possible conservation actions.

The Uganda kob survives in good numbers in Garamba and Virunga National Parks (DR Congo), and Murchison Falls-Aswa Lolim, Queen Elizabeth and Tore-Semliki (Uganda) (East 1999). The status of this subspecies is likely to improve as the rehabilitation of other areas of Uganda proceeds in the next few years, e.g., Aswa-Lolim and Toro-Semliki, although political disturbances in DR Congo may adversely affect the important populations of Garamba and Virunga National Parks.

A few Uganda Kob are held in captivity (East 1999).

Classifications [top]

2. Savanna -> 2.2. Savanna - Moist
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
4. Grassland -> 4.6. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.3. Wetlands (inland) - Shrub Dominated Wetlands
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.2. War, civil unrest & military exercises
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Birungi, J. 1999. Phylogenetic relationships of Reduncine antelopes (Subfamily Reduncinae) and population structure of the Kob (Kobus kob). Ph.D. Thesis, Makerere University.

East, R. (Compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Fay, M., Elkan, P., Marjan, M. and Grossman, F. 2007. Aerial Surveys of Wildlife, Livestock, and Human Activity in and around Existing and Proposed Protected Areas of Southern Sudan, Dry Season 2007. WCS – Southern Sudan Technical Report.

Fischer, F. 1998. Ökoethologische Grundlagen der nachhaltigen Nutzung von Kobantilopen (Kobus kob kob). Ph.D. Thesis, University of Würzburg.

Fischer, F. 2013. Kobus kob Kob. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, pp. 439-444. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Fischer, F. and Linsenmair, K. E. 2001. Decreases in ungulate population densities. Examples from the Comoe National Park, Ivory Coast. Biological Conservation 101: 131-135.

Fryxell, J. M. 1987. Lek breeding and territorial aggression in white-eared kob. Ethology 75: 211-220.

Lorenzen, E. D., de Neergaard, R., Arctander, P. and Siegismund H. R. 2007. Phylogeography, hybridization and Pleistocene refugia of the kob antelope (Kobus kob). Molecular Ecology 16: 3241-3252.

Scholte, P., Adam, S. and Serge, B. K. 2007. Population trends of antelopes in Waza National Park (Cameroon) from 1960 to 2001: the interacting effects of rainfall, flooding and human interventions. African Journal of Ecology 45: 431-439.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2008. Kobus kob. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T11036A3242508. . Downloaded on 31 August 2016.
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