Kobus ellipsiprymnus 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Kobus ellipsiprymnus
Species Authority: (Ogilbyi, 1833)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Waterbuck
French Cobe onctueux
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies are recognized (formerly regarded as distinct species): Defassa Waterbuck (K. e. defassa) and Ellipsen Waterbuck (K. e. ellipsiprymnus). Lorenzen et al. (2006) found a high degree of genetic differentiation between the subspecies and strongly confirmed hybridization in Kenya’s Nairobi N.P. population.

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)
Remains widespread across western, central, eastern and southern Africa, with an estimated total population of about 200,000 over half of which occurred in protected areas. The species is susceptible to poaching and a number of populations have declined. There is no evidence so far that the scale of this decline has reached a level that would qualify the species for Near Threatened or Vulnerable status. However, if declining trends continue then the species may warrant uplisting to Near Threatenedin the near or medium-term future.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Waterbuck formerly occurred throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. It has been eliminated widely within its former range, but survives in many protected areas and in some other areas which are sparsely populated by humans.

The Defassa Waterbuck is found west of the western Rift Valley and south of the Sahel from Eritrea in the east to Guinea Bissau in the west; its most northerly point of distribution is in southern Mali. A population still exists in Niokola-Koba in Senegal. Defassa also range east of the Congo Basin forest, spreading west below the basin’s southern limit through Zambia into Angola. Another arm extends north, west of the Congo Basin to the Zaïre R. in Congo Republic. Defassa are extinct in Gambia (though vagrants may enter from Senegal) (Spinage in press).

East of the eastern Rift Valley, the Defassa is replaced by the Common Waterbuck, which extends southwards to about the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi N.P. in KwaZulu-Natal, and to central Namibia. Common Waterbuck are extinct in Ethiopia (though Defassa remain) (Spinage in press).
Countries occurrence:
Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Citing various authors East (1999) indicates that population densities can reach high levels within localized areas of favourable habitat, e.g., >10.0/km² in Lake Nakuru National Park. More typical density estimates obtained by aerial surveys of areas where the species is reasonably common are of the order 0.05-0.15/km². Higher densities of 0.2-0.9/km² have been recorded in aerial surveys of a few areas. Ground sun/eys have provided density estimates of the order 0.4-1.5/km² in areas where the species is common.

East (1999) produced a total population estimate of about 200,000. This includes approximately 95,000 Defassa Waterbuck and 105,000 Common. Overall population trend is decreasing for both subspecies.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Inhabits savanna woodlands and forest-savanna moasics near permanent water (East 1999). Defassa generally are limited to areas receiving at least 750 mm annual rainfall, whereas Common persist in drier regimes (Spinage in press). They have been recorded to at least 2,100 m in Ethiopia (Yalden et al. 1996). Waterbuck are able to exploit a range of habitats to which its congeners are specifically adapted, albeit only to a varying degree, being not as aquatic as the Lechwe, nor as independent of water as the Kob (Spinage in press). Waterbuck are classified as grazers, but also browse.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Waterbuck are hunted for food and sport. The proportion of animals from wild populations and from private ranches is unknown.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Waterbuck have been eliminated widely within their former range mainly due to hunting, due to their sedentary nature and fondness for cultivation (Spinage in press). Even though they remain well represented in protected areas, several populations have undergone steep declines (especially those of the Defassa Waterbuck), including those in Queen Elizabeth N. P., Murschison Falls N.P., Akagera N.P., Lake Nakuru N.P., and Comoe N.P. (Spinage in press; and references therein).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: More than half the population survives in protected areas, with about 60% of Defassa in protected areas, and more than half of Common in protected areas (plus 13% on private land) (East 1999).

Important populations of the Defassa Waterbuck persist in areas such as Niokolo-Koba (Senegal), Comoe (Côte d'Ivoire), Arly-Singou and Nazinga (Burkina Faso), Mole and Bui (Ghana), Pendjari (Benin), the national parks and hunting zones of North Province (Cameroon), Manovo-Gounda-St. Floris (Central African Republic), Moukalaba (Gabon), Garamba and Virunga (Congo-Kinshasa), the Awash Valley and Omo-Mago-Murule (Ethiopia), Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks (Uganda), Serengeti, Moyowosi-Kigosi, Ugalla River and Katavi-Rukwa (Tanzania) and Kafue (Zambia), but about half of these populations are in decline because of poaching (East 1999).

Important populations of the Common Waterbuck occur in areas such as Tsavo, Laikipia, Kajiado, Lake Nakuru and the coastal rangelands (Kenya), Tarangire and Selous-Mikumi (Tanzania), the Luangwa Valley (Zambia), and Kruger, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and private land (South Africa) (East 1999).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
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
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
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

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

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

Bibliography [top]

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

Lorenzen, E. D., Simonsen, B. T., Kat, P. W., Arctander, P. and Siegismund, H. R. 2006. Hybridization between subspecies of waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) in zones of overlap with limited introgression. Molecular Ecology 15: 3787-3799.

Spinage, C.A. 2013. Kobus ellipsiprymnus Waterbuck. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, pp. 461-468. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Yalden, D.W., Largen, M.J., Kock, D. and Hillman, J.C. 1996. Catalogue of the Mammals of Ethiopia and Eritrea. 7. Revised checklist, zoogeography and conservation. Tropical Zoology 9(1): 73-164.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2008. Kobus ellipsiprymnus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T11035A3241978. . Downloaded on 27 August 2016.
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