Hippotragus equinus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Hippotragus equinus (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803)
Common Name(s):
English Roan Antelope
French Antilope chevaline, Antilope rouane, Hippotrague
Taxonomic Notes: Six subspecies have been described, but the validity of most of these is still in doubt, and recent genetic studies have shown that only the western African subspecies (koba) constitutes a genetically separate group from those in the rest of Africa (Alpers et al. 2004).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-05-09
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
Distribution remains widespread and total numbers were estimated to be 76,000, with 60% in protected areas in 1999. About one-third of the total population was estimated to stable or increasing, with the rest declining. As yet, the evidence does not indicate that these declines have reached a level overall that would qualify for Near Threatened or Vulnerable. However, if present trends continue, the Roan Antelope’s status may eventually decline to threatened as it disappears from large parts of its current range because of hunting and loss of habitat to the expansion of settlement and agriculture. This trend will only be reversed if more of the surviving populations receive adequate protection and management.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Roan Antelope formerly occurred very widely in the savanna woodlands and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, but has been eliminated from large parts of its former range. The species remains locally common in West and Central Africa, while in East and southern Africa, the traditional antelope strongholds, the species is now more rare. The species is now locally extinct in Burundi, Eritrea and possibly Gambia. It was also eliminated from Swaziland and later reintroduced to the privately owned Mkhaya Nature Reserve (Monadjem 1998).
Countries occurrence:
Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Ethiopia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Possibly extinct:
Regionally extinct:
Burundi; Eritrea
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Citing various authors East (1999) indicates that summation of the available population estimates suggests a total population of about 40,000 Roan, but this does not allow for undercounting bias in aerial surveys or the extensive areas of the species’ current distribution for which estimates are unavailable. Accounting for these biases, East (1999) gave an estimated total population of 76,000, with the largest populations in Burkina Faso (>7,370), Cameroon (>6,070), Zambia (>5,080) and Tanzania (>4,310). Spinney (1996) commented that Roan Antelopes in Sudan survived locally in relatively stable numbers. During recent surveys conducted during the dry season of South Sudan, only 21 individuals were counted in Southern N.P., with a small group sighted in the Jonglei and two other sightings in Boma N.P. (Fay et al. 2007).

Despite the fact that Roan are generally common in West and Central Africa, some populations are in decline, such as that in Comoé N.P. where numbers have declined by about 70% between 1978 and 1998 to around 500 animals (Fischer and Linsenmair 2001).

In Tanzania, Foley et al. (2014) estimated 1,000-1,500 in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem, 1,200 in Ugalla and Moyowosi GRs and around Lake Sagara, and c. 450 in the Katavi-Rungwa ecosystem. Rare in the Serengeti. Overall declining slowly in Tanzania.

Density estimates are summarized by East (1999) and Chardonnet and Crosmary (2013). Overall population trend is generally stable or decreasing in protected areas and decreasing elsewhere, apart from the small numbers on private land in southern Africa which are increasing.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:50000-60000
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Savanna woodlands and grasslands, and the bushveld and lowveld of southern Africa, with the cover of high grasses and woody plants playing an important role for both grazing and calving (Chardonnet and Crosmary 2013). A water-dependent grazer/browser.
Generation Length (years):7.5

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted for trophies and poached for meat.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Roan Antelope has been eliminated from large parts of its former range because of poaching and loss of habitat to the expansion of settlement and agriculture, for example cotton farming (Chardonnet and Crosmary 2013). It now survives mainly in and around protected areas and in other areas with low densities of people and livestock. Its persistence in West Africa is probably due to its ability to withstand illegal hunting pressures better than many other large herbivores, especially the more water dependant and more sedentary species which are more exposed to poaching (East 1999, Chardonnet and Crosmary 2013).

Different explanations have been provided for the decline of Roan and its lack of subsequent recovery in the Kruger N.P. in South Africa, 450 animals in 1986 to around 30 in 2001 (Harrington et al. 1999, Grant et al. 2002). The most likely reason is increased predation pressure by Lions, following the influx of grazers following construction of artificial waterpoints (Knoop and Owen-Smith 2006). Illegal hunting probably contributed to the decline of the Roan Antelope in Masai Mara N.R. in Kenya in the 1970s (Hofer et al. 1996).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: At present, about 60% of the species’ total population occurs in protected areas (Chardonnet and Crosmary 2013). The largest surviving populations occur in areas such as Niokolo-Koba N.P. (Senegal), Comoé N.P. (Côte d'Ivoire), Arly-Singou N.P. and Nazinga G.R. (Burkina Faso), Mole N.P. (Ghana), Pendjari  N.P. (Benin), Waza N.P. and the national parks and hunting zones of North Province (Cameroon), Manovo-Gounda-St. Floris N.P. (Central African Republic), Moyowosi-Kigosi G.R. and Katavi-Rukwa N.P. (Tanzania), the national parks of the Luangwa Valley (Zambia), Nyika N.P. (Malawi) and northern Botswana. Most of these protected populations are stable or increasing but some, for example, in Comoé, Arly-Singou and Cameroon’s North Province, are in decline.

Roan have been reintroduced to parts of South Africa, including Marakele N.P. and introduced to KwaZulu-Natal (where there is no evidence they formerly occurred) in reserves such as Weenen N.R. and Karfloof N.R. (Rowe-Rowe 1994, Chardonnet and Crosmary 2013)

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
4. Grassland -> 4.7. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management

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
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):51-60
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ 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

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ 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

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
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

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

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

Bibliography [top]

Alpers, D.L., Van Vuuren, B.J., Arctander, P. and Robinson, T.J. 2004. Population genetics of the roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) with suggestions for conservation. Molecular Ecology 13: 1771-1784.

Chardonnet, P. and Crosmary, W. 2013. Hippotragus equinus. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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

Foley, C., Foley, L., Lobora, A., De Luca, D., Msuha, M., Davenport, T.R.B. and Durant, S. 2014. A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania. Princeton University Press, Princeton, USA.

Grant, C. C., Davidson, T., Funston, P. J. and Pienaar, D. J. 2002. Challenges faced in the conservation of rare antelope: a case study on the northern basalt plains of the Kruger National Park. Koedoe 45: 45–66.

Harrington, R., Owen-Smith, N., Viljoen, P. C., Biggs, H. C., Mason, D. R. and Funston, P. J. 1999. Establishing the causes of the roan antelope decline in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Biological Conservation 90(1): 69-78.

Hofer, H., Campbell, K.L.I., East, M.L. and Huish, S.A. 1996. The impact of game meat hunting on target and non-target species in the Serengeti. In: V.J. Taylor and N. Dunstone (eds), The exploitation of mammal populations, pp. 117-146. Chapman and Hal, London, UK.

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

Knoop, M.-C. and Owen-Smith, N. 2006. Foraging ecology of roan antelope: key resources during critical periods. African Journal of Ecology 44: 228-236.

Monadjem, A. 1998. Mammals of Swaziland. The Conservation Trust of Swaziland and Big Game Parks.

Rowe-Rowe, D. T. 1994. The ungulates of Natal. Natal Parks Board, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Spinney, L. 1996. Southern Sudan's wildlife is under huge pressure. Swara 19: 28-30.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2017. Hippotragus equinus. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T10167A50188287. . Downloaded on 24 June 2018.
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