Kobus kob 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Kobus kob (Erxleben, 1777)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Kob
French Cobe de Buffon
Taxonomic Notes: Several subspecies have been named but three are usually recognized: White-eared Kob K. k. leucotis; Uganda Kob K. k. thomasi; and Buffon’s Kob K. k. kob (Kingdon 1997, East 1999, Fischer 2013). Lorenzen et al. (2007) question the taxonomic status of K. k. kob and K. k. thomasi as two separate subspecies due to the similarity of their mtDNA sequences (although they are phenotypically distinct). 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: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-01-07
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
The species is still widespread and numerous overall, particularly the population in the Sudd, but it is highly vulnerable to poaching and habitat loss which has caused population declines. Overall these are not estimated to approach the threshold for Vulnerable. While the status of the Kob will 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 upon these conservation measures. The species could easily become threatened if current conservation measures cease to be effective or disappear altogether, or if there are significant changes to the core habitat in the Sudd. There is particular cause for concern over the status of Buffon's Kob.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Kob (Kobus kob) were formerly distributed across the whole West and Central African savanna zone from Senegal and Guinea-Bissau to South Sudan and extreme south-west Ethiopia, extending south into Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
Current distribution is patchy and the species has undergone extensive declines. K. k. kob (Buffon’s or Western Kob) were formerly one of the most abundant antelopes in West and Central Africa but are now largely confined to protected areas, having gone extinct from Gambia and Sierra Leone (and perhaps Mauritania) (Fischer 2013). K. k. leucotis (White-eared Kob) has the smallest range centred around the Sudd in South Sudan and still retains a large population. K. k. thomasi (Uganda Kob) are mainly found in Uganda and surrounding areas; these remaining populations represent less than 1% of its original distribution in East Africa (J. Kingdon pers. comm. in Fischer 2013).
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; Togo; Uganda
Possibly extinct:
Regionally extinct:
Burundi; Gambia; Kenya; Sierra Leone; Tanzania, United Republic of
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:East (1999) estimated 95,000 Buffon's Kob, but populations have undergone significant declines since then. Fay et al. (2007) estimated more than 753,572 White-eared Kob in South Sudan. East (1999) estimated 100,000 Uganda Kob and populations in protected areas may be stable (Fischer 2013) but there is no updated estimate available. Overall, numbers of Kobs are declining throughout their range (Fischer 2013).

Kob can reach high densities when well protected in areas of favourable habitat, ranging from 15-40 animals/km² (Fischer 2013, 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:
Number of mature individuals:500000-1000000
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 2013). 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 2013, and references therein).
Generation Length (years):4.5

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The sedentary nature of Kobs and their tendency to occur in relatively large concentrations in open areas make them highly susceptible to hunting. This has led to high levels of unsustainable hunting over most of their range and therefore large-scale declines (Fischer 2013). However under strict protection Kob numbers can recover quickly, allowing sustainable offtakes of about 7% of the population (Mayaka et al. 2004)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Although very abundant in the past, Kobs are victims of unsustainable hunting over most of their range (Fischer 2013). 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 of Kob in areas such as Comoé National Park (Côte d'Ivoire) and northern and eastern Central African Republic during the 1990s (East 1999, Fischer 2013).

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 2013).

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), Comoé (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 (Central African Republic) (East 1999, Fischer 2013). Levels of protection within these sites are very variable and poaching is not effectively controlled in some.

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).

The Uganda Kob survived in good numbers in Murchison Falls-Aswa Lolim, Queen Elizabeth and Tore-Semliki NPs (Uganda) and Garamba and Virunga National Parks (DR Congo) (East 1999), but the protection status of these protected areas in DRC has deteriorated since then due to insecurity. A few Uganda Kob are held in captivity but there is no coordinated breeding programme.

Classifications [top]

2. Savanna -> 2.2. Savanna - Moist
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
4. Grassland -> 4.6. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.3. Wetlands (inland) - Shrub Dominated Wetlands
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
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
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Unknown
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ 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 ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ 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 ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.2. War, civil unrest & military exercises
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.5. Viral/prion-induced diseases -> 8.5.2. Named species
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

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.

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

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA.

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.

Mayaka, Th. B., Stigter, J., Heitkönig, I. M. A. and Prins, H. H. T. 2004. A population dynamics model for the management of Buffon's kob (Kobus kob kob) in the Bénoué National Park Complex, Cameroon. Ecological Modelling 176: 135-153.

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. 2016. Kobus kob. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T11036A50189609. . Downloaded on 17 November 2017.
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