Damaliscus lunatus 

Scope: Global

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Damaliscus lunatus
Species Authority: (Burchell, 1824)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Topi, Tsessebe, Tiang
French Damalisque, Korrigum, Sassaby, Topi
Taxonomic Notes: Five subspecies are usually recognized: Korrigum (D. l. korrigum); Tiang (D. l. tiang); Coastal Topi (D. l. topi); Topi (D. l. jimela); and Tsessebe (D. l. lunatus). The last named form exhibits obvious differences from the other subspecies, with the result that this species is sometimes split into two, most recently by Grubb (2005). Cotterill (2003) recognized tsessebes in northeastern Zambia in the southern Bangweulu Flats as a new species, Damaliscus superstes based on differences in cranial morphology and pelage, and proposed considering animals from south-central Africa (south of, and including, Angola, Zambia and southern DR Congo) as D. lunatus (with the exception of D. superstes), and all other populations from East Africa and the remainder of the range provisionally as D. korrigum (followed by Grubb 2005). The current treatment provisionally follows Duncan (in press).

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)
This species remains widespread across sub-Saharan Africa, but has undergone substantial declines during the last 100 years and is threatened by hunting for meat and competition with cattle. Total population size has been estimated at about 300,000. About 25% of these occurred in areas with reasonably good protection and management. However, WCS surveys in southern Sudan indicate that this estimate should be increased by about 100,000. Most remaining populations are known or believed to be declining. However there is no evidence at present to show that the decline overall has reached the 20-30% level over three generations (20 years) that would justify Near Threatened or Vulnerable status, but if declines continue it is only a matter of time before one of these thresholds is reached.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species formerly occurred widely on floodplains and other grasslands in sub-Saharan Africa. It was one of the most numerous large antelope species in Africa, but has been eliminated from much of its former range. Various populations have become very rare and it has disappeared from Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, The Gambia, and Burundi. The ranges of the subspecies are as follows (following East 1999 and Duncan in press):

Korrigum formerly occurred from southern Mauritania and Senegal to western Chad, but has undergone a dramatic decline since the early 1900s because of displacement by cattle and uncontrolled hunting for meat. The species no longer occurs in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, or The Gambia, and they probably no longer occur in northern Togo, Nigeria or western Chad, except as vagrants.

Tiang occurred throughout southern Chad, northern Central African Republic, and Sudan to south-western Ethiopia and extreme north-western Kenya.

Coastal Topi formerly occurred in southern Somalia in riverine grasslands on the lower Shebelle and Juba Rivers and the area around Bush Bush N.P., and in Kenya in Lamu, Garissa and Tana River districts. Their range is unchanged in Kenya, although there is no information available from Somalia.

Topi occurred in south-west Kenya, northwest and western Tanzania, east and south-western Uganda, north-eastern Rwanda, and the eastern floodplains and savanna grasslands of Burundi. Topi are now extinct in Burundi.

Bangweulu Tsessebe formerly occurred in the Bangweulu Flats in northeastern Zambia, and in the Katanga Pedicle of DR Congo, where they are now extinct.

Tsessebe remain present in a number of populations in southern Africa, but became extinct in Mozambique around the late 1970s or early 1980s. They have been reintroduced in Swaziland, after the indigenous population was exterminated.
Countries occurrence:
Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Ethiopia; Ghana; Kenya; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Possibly extinct:
Regionally extinct:
Burundi; Gambia; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Senegal
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:East (1999) gives total population estimates of 30,000 Tsessebe, 93,000 Topi, 100,000 Coastal Topi, 75,000 Tiang and 3,000 Korrigum, and a species total of about 300,000. Based on the figures available in Appendix 4 in East (1999), numbers of Bangweulu Tsessebe are in the order of 3,500.

Chardonnet (2004) revised the estimate of the global population of Korrigum to 1,850-2,650 (including 800 in W-Arly-Pendjari and 800-1,600 in Waza N.P.), and estimated the number of Tiang in Central Africa at 3,200.

East's (1999) total for Tiang included an estimated 50,000 Tiang in southern Sudan, which he acknowledged could be a gross underestimate of the actual population; indeed, recent aerial surveys carried out by WCS in southern Sudan in the early dry season in 2007 indicate a population of ~153,000 (probably an underestimate) in the Jonglei area and a generally favourable conservation situation (although numbers in Boma National Park had declined). These estimates are lower than those reported for the late dry season in 1980 (by about half), but slightly larger than those recorded in the early dry season in the same year (see Mefit-Babtie 1983).

Population trends are increasing for the Tsessebe (especially on private land) and Bangweulu Tseseebe, but decreasing for most of the other subspecies.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Generally an inhabitat of floodplains and other grasslands in sub-Saharan Africa. The species moved seasonally between the Sahel grasslands, savannas and the floodplains of the Niger Delta. In Sudan, the Tiang was widespread in savanna and floodplain grasslands, but also occurred in much lower numbers in the woodlands of the south-west. In Somalia, the Coastal Topi formerly occurred locally in the south, in riverine grasslands on the lower Shebelle and Juba Rivers and in the Lake Badana (Bush Bush National Park) area. In South Africa, the Tsessebe formerly occurred in the bushveld and lowveld. Currently, the Tsessebe occurs mainly on the basalt plains of northern Kruger National Park. Tsessebe do not occur in forests, arid or montane habitats (above 1,500 m) (East 1999; Duncan in press). Nearly exclusively grazers, they can go for months without drinking in the dry season if they are feeding on growing grass (Duncan in press).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted for food and for sport. The proportion of animals taken from the wild and from ranches is not available.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): While the species is still numerous and widespread, it has been eliminated from large areas of its former range by hunting, and habitat degradation associated with the encroachment/expansion of cattle. These threats have been most marked on the West African Korrigum; of the 12 countries in which they formerly occurred, they are now extirpated from four, and probably only occur as vagrants in three.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Around 98% of remaining Korrigum occur in and around protected areas, primarily in the W-Arly-Pendjari complex (Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin) and in Waza and Benoue in northern Cameroon (East 1999; Duncan in press).

About one-quarter of Tiang occur in protected areas), including: Zakouma N.P. (the largest population in central Africa at ca. 1,300) and Salamat Faunal Reserve and Aouk hunting areas (Chad), Manovo-Gounda-St Floris N.P. (CAR), Dinder N.P. (Sudan), Omo N.P. and Mago N.P. (Ethiopia) and Sibiloi N.P. (Kenya) (East 1999; Duncan in press). There is no information on their status in Dinder N.P., where they may now number no more than a few dozen individuals (Chardonnet 2004).

Coastal Topi occur mainly outside protected areas, although they are present in Boni and Dodori National Reserves (East 1999).

More than 90% of Topi occur in protected areas, in particular Virunga N.P. (DR Congo), Queen Elizabeth N.P. (Uganda), Akagera N.P. (Rwanda), Mara (Kenya) and Serengeti N.P. (Tanzania). However, the populations in QENP and the Virungas have been declining (East 1999). The population in Akagera, the last effective stronghold for Topi in Rwanda, declined from around 7,500 in 1990 to an estimated 2,000 in 1997-1998; following the reduction in size of the park in 1997, only an estimated 770 animals survive in the new Akagera N.P. (Williams and Ntayombya 1999).

The Bangweulu Tsessebe occurs in Bangweulu, and has been translocated to a number of private game ranches in Zambia (Cotterill 2003). The latter author called for the translocation of a population to Kasanka N.P.

Tsessebe are well represented in both protected areas (40%) and on private land (20%), with strongholds in Okavango and Chobe N.P. (Moremi) and Kruger N.P. (South Africa). However, the population in Kruger N.P., among the best-protected areas on the continent, declined to about 220 individuals in 1996 (Dunham et al. 2005).

Classifications [top]

2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
4. Grassland -> 4.6. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded
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
In-Place Species Management
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 -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ 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 -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ 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

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Sport hunting/specimen collecting
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Chardonnet, B. 2004. An update on the status of Korrigum (Damaliscus lunatus korrigum) and Tiang (D. l. tiang) in West and Central Africa. Antelope Survey Update 9: 66-76.

Cotterill, F. P. D. 2003. Insights into the taxonomy of the tsessebe antelopes Damaliscus lunatus (Bovidae: Alcelaphini) with the description of a new evolutionary species in south-central Africa. Durban Museum Novitates 28: 11-30.

Duncan, P. 2013. Damaliscus lunatus Topi/Tsessebe/Tiang/Korrigum. In: J.. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, pp. 502-510. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Dunham, K. M., Robertson, E. F. and Grant, C. C. 2005. Rainfall and the decline of a rare antelope, the tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus lunatus), in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Biological Conservation 117: 83-94.

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

Grubb, P. 2005. Artiodactyla. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), pp. 637-722. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA.

Mefit-Babtie, S. R. L. 1983. Development Studies in the Jonglei Canal Area. Final Report. Vol. 5. - wildlife studies. Mefit-Babtie SRL, Glasgow, Rome 81 Khartoum, and Executive Organ of the National Council for Development of the Jonglei Canal Area, Khartoum, Sudan.

Williams, S. D. and Ntayombya, P. 1999. Akagera: An assessment of the biodiversity and conservation needs. Report of the Zoological Society of London – MINAGRI, London, UK.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2008. Damaliscus lunatus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T6235A12589310. . Downloaded on 28 August 2016.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided