- Every two weeks, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting a large antelope native to sub-Saharan Africa: the waterbuck.
Waterbucks (Kobus ellipsiprymnus), as their names indicate, inhabit areas that are close to water sources in savanna grasslands, gallery forests, and riverine woodlands. They are highly dependent on water as they cannot tolerate dehydration in hot weather. Most other antelope species drink once every one to three days but the waterbuck has to drink two or more times a day. Waterbucks eat a variety of grasses but when necessary they also eat other herbs and occasionally browse leaves from certain trees and bushes. These antelopes are good swimmers and are known to swim to islands in lakes to graze. They also use water for protection: when potential danger is detected they frequently go into the water and submerge themselves only leaving their nostrils above the surface.
Females give birth to a single calf which they hide for the first three weeks, returning three to four times a day to feed them. During each suckling session, the mother also cleans the calf so that no odor is left that could potentially attract predators. Even so, calf mortality is high and the main predators that attack newborns are lions, hyenas, and leopards. Due to hunting, waterbucks have been eliminated widely within their former range. Now they also have increased mortality due to food shortage and a decrease in food quality. They have a declining population and the IUCN lists them as Least Concern. Watch the video to learn more about this species!
Special thanks to Dr. Meredith Palmer and Dr. Justine Becker for sharing their footage with us, and Joel Abraham for providing the video clip about waterbuck behavior. The footage is part of a camera trap study to investigate how prey animals (like wildebeest, zebra, and impala) respond to complex carnivore guilds and the reintroduction of locally-extinct predators (like lions, cheetah, hyena, leopards, and African wild dogs). The camera traps are triggered to play predator sounds when triggered, and then video record animal responses.
Banner image of a waterbuck by Romi Castagnino/Mongabay.
Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s bilingual writer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_castagnino