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Kobus megaceros

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Kobus megaceros
Species Authority: (Fitzinger, 1855)
Common Name(s):
English Nile Lechwe

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2a 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)
Justification:
Listed as Endangered since available evidence based on aerial surveys conducted in the Jonglei area of southern Sudan in 1980 and 2007 suggests that a decline in the Nile Lechwe population well exceeding 50% has taken place over the past 21 years (three generations). The situation is highly likely to deteriorate further as a result of oil exploration and exploitation in the Sudd, which is a major and immediate threat to the wildlife of these wetlands and the Zeraf Reserve. The status of this species may require re-evaluation with the availability of the results of a planned wet-season survey of southern Sudan.
History:
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Found only in Sudan and Ethiopia. In Sudan, the bulk of the population is found in the Sudd swamps, with smaller numbers in the Machar marshes near the Ethiopia border. In Ethiopia, the Nile Lechwe occurs marginally in the south-west, in the Gambella National Park, where its survival is probably highly precarious because of expanding human activities (Hillman and Fryxell 1988; East 1999; Falchetti in press).
Countries:
Native:
Ethiopia; South Sudan
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Aerial surveys of the Sudd region conducted in the early and late dry season of the Jonglei area in southern Sudan in 1980 yielded estimated counts of ~12,000 and ~32,000 animals, respectively. Most animals were concentrated mainly within the swamps on the west bank of the Nile (Mefit-Babtie 1983). Probably less than 1,000 animals were present in Machar-Gambella (Hillman and Fryxell 1988). An aerial survey carried out by WCS in the early dry season in southern Sudan in 2007 yielded an estimate of 4,291 animals, and identified the Zeraf Reserve as the most important protected area for this species (Fay et al. 2007).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Nile Lechwe is confined to seasonally flooded swamps and grasslands within the Sudd and Machar-Gambella wetlands of southern Sudan and south-western Ethiopia. They are almost always in shallow waters on the edge of deeper swamps where the water is between 10 and 40 cm deep (Mefit-Babtie 1983).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The wildlife of the Sudd and Machar-Gambella wetlands of southern Sudan and south-western Ethiopia has been severely affected by civil war, the displacement and resettlement of human populations, proliferation of firearms and increased hunting for meat (Falchetti in press). Nile Lechwe are likely to be very strongly constrained by large numbers of cattle that penetrate deep into the Sudd during the dry season and they are commonly very close to dense herds of cattle during the day, but always in water that is too deep for the latter to graze in (Falchetti in press).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In the Sudan, populations of Nile Lechwe occur in three nominal protected areas: Zeraf, extending over 9,700 km² along the Bahr-el-Zeraf; Fanyikang, over 480 km², north of Bahr-el-Gazal, which separates them from the Zeraf Reserve; and Shambe, over 620 km², along Bahr-el-Gebel. However, Nile Lechwe move in and out of these nominally protected areas and most occur in areas that are shared seasonally with huge herds of cattle. In Ethiopia, they occur in the Gambella N.P., which has yet to be officially gazetted (see Falchetti in press).

Falchetti (1998) outlined priorities for both in situ and ex situ conservation of this species. The urgent need to address these priorities as opportunity permits is underlined by plans to resuscitate the construction of the Jonglei canal, introduce irrigation and exploit oil reserves in southern Sudan (in the Sudd and in Zeraf; Fay et al. 2007), which could result in a dramatic deterioration of the Nile Lechwe's status (East 1999).

There is an increasing population of Nile Lechwe held in captivity (Falchetti 1998).

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2008. Kobus megaceros. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 October 2014.
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