- 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 are meeting the bushbuck.
The bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) is an antelope found in sub-Saharan forests and brush. It is the least social and non-territorial of the African antelopes with adult rams actively avoiding eye contact with one another, and neither rams nor ewes defending their home ranges.
These shy and usually solitary antelopes have distinctive white patches on the neck and throat and vertical stripes or rows of spots on the sides. Males have horns, which are long, spirally twisted, and relatively straight. Horns begin to grow at ten months old, and they can grow up to 50 cm long.
When threatened, bushbucks will react in a variety of ways. If they are in the forest or thick bush, they may freeze in one position and remain very still, allowing their coloring to camouflage them. Sometimes they will lie flat on the ground or run away, producing a series of hoarse barks. When surprised in an open area, they will sometimes stand still or slowly walk to the nearest cover.
Female bushbucks go to great lengths to hide their young. After giving birth, the mother cleans and hides the newborn calf. When she visits and suckles it, she eats its dung, so no scent remains to attract predators.
The main threat to bushbuck is habitat loss due to the unsustainable growth of agriculture, settlements, and roads. Hunting pressures pose another threat to these animals in parts of their range. Currently, this species is classified as least concern by the IUCN and has a stable population. Watch the video to learn more about this species!
Special thanks to Pearson McGovern for sharing his footage with us. Pearson is a research biologist for the African Chelonian Institute (ACI), a nonprofit organization focused on conserving Africa’s turtles and tortoises and their habitats through research, education, and grassroots collaboration. With efforts throughout West Africa, ACI is doing its part to ensure that this threatened group of animals has a fighting chance in a rapidly changing world. ACI is a part of the African Aquatic Conservation Fund (AACF), which has a broad focus on Africa’s aquatic ecosystems and the threatened wildlife that call these ecosystems home. For more on both ACI’s and AACF’s work, you can follow them at either africanchelonian.org and Africanaquaticconservation.org, respectively, or on both Facebook and Instagram. To follow Pearson in the field, follow @pearsmcg on Instagram.
Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s Associate Digital Editor and host. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_castagnino
Banner image by Hans Hillewaert via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)