Kobus leche ssp. smithemani 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Kobus leche ssp. smithemani (Lydekker, 1900)
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Black Lechwe
Taxonomic Notes: Black Lechwe (Kobus leche smithemani) is one of five subspecies of Southern Lechwe (Kobus leche), following Ansell and Banfield (1979), Birungi and Arctander (2001) and Cotterill (2005). The other subspecies being: Robert's Lechwe (K. l. robertsi); Kafue Lechwe (K. l. kafuensis); Red Lechwe (K. l. leche) and Upemba Lechwe (K. l. anselli).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-09-07
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Cooke, R.
Black Lechwe numbers have stabilised since the late 1980s (East 1999, Jeffery and Nefdt 2013) and are now increasing. However, the entire population is restricted to the Bangweulu Basin where it remains at risk of poaching and is totally dependent on the maintenance of a favourable hydrological regime.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Black Lechwe (K. l. smithemani) is distributed in the southern half of the Bangweulu Swamps of northern Zambia (East 1999). Formerly it also occurred on the Chambeshi floodplains along the upper Luapula floodplain between Zambia and south-eastern DRC, but it is unlikely to survive there.
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Black Lechwe increased from 16,000-17,000 in the late 1960s to about 40,000 in 1980 and subsequently decreased to 30,000, where it seems to have stabilised since the late 1980s (East 1999, Jeffery and Nefdt 2013). An aerial census by Bangwelu Wetlands in April 2015 using video transects estimated 49,036 (+/- 1,839). At this time the animals congregate in an area of ca 140 km². This compares to a figure of 35,000 in 2013 (using a different census methodology) but is considered to demonstrate that numbers are increasing.
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:33000-36000
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Prefer floodplain grasslands, shallow water margins of floodplains and swamps (less than 1 m deep), shallow water meadows and light woodlands and termitaria grasslands on their periphery (Jeffery and Nefdt 2013).
Generation Length (years):6.4

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Black Lechwe are hunted primarily for meat but also for sport (Jeffery and Nefdt 2013).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats to Black Lechwe are poaching for meat, encroachment by livestock grazers (especially around the drier margins of Bangwelu); they are very susceptible to any change in the hydrological regime (East 1999, Jeffrey and Nefdt 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Black Lechwe occurs in Bangwelu Game Management Area that includes Chikuni Special Conservation Area, which is also a Ramsar site, and Kalasa-Mukoso Game Management Area (Jeffrey and Nefdt 2013). This subspecies is entirely dependent on the effective protection and management of the Bangweulu wetlands.

Classifications [top]

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) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
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 -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant 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:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

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

Bibliography [top]

Ansell, W.F.H. and Banfield, C.F. 1979. The subspecies of Kobus leche Gray, 1850 (Bovidae). Säugetierkundliche Mitteilungen 40: 168-176.

Birungi, J. and Arctander, P. 2001. Molecular systematics and phylogeny of the Reduncini (Artiodactyla: Bovidae) inferred from the analysis of mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 8: 125-147.

Cotterill, F.P.D. 2005. The Upemba lechwe, Kobus anselli: an antelope new to science emphasizes the conservation importance of Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo. Journal of Zoology (London) 265: 113 -132.

East, R. (compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-2. Available at: (Accessed: 14 September 2017).

Jeffery, R. and Nefdt, R. 2013. Kobus leche Southern Lechwe. In: J.S. Kingdon & M. Hoffmann (ed.), The Mammals of Africa. VI. Pigs, Hippopotamuses, Chevrotain, Giraffes, Deer, and Bovids, pp. 449-455. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2017. Kobus leche ssp. smithemani. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T11046A50190268. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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