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Physical Characteristics

  • Head and body length: 100-136 cm
  • Shoulder height: 65-89 cm
  • Tail length: 18-20 cm
  • Adult weight: 43-65 kg (males), 35-45 kg (females)

Male mountain reedbucks tend to be larger than females. Both sexes have a soft, woolly coat of grayish-fawn fur (except male Adamawa mountain reedbuck (R. f. adamauae), which are reddish-brown). The underparts are bright white, and the tail has a bushy white underside. A round bare patch of black skin (a scent gland) is located beneath the long, slender ears. Only males grow horns, which are short and possess a slight forward curve. Horn length varies between subspecies, being shortest (approximately 13 cm) in the Adamawa mountain reedbuck, 18-22 cm in the southern mountain reedbuck (R. f. fulvorufula), and from 14 cm up to 35 cm in Chanler’s mountain reedbuck (R. f. chanleri).

Similar species

  • The southern reedbuck (Redunca arundinum) is distinctly larger and longer-limbed, and (in males) the horns are much longer.
  • Bohor reedbucks (Redunca redunca) are larger and can be distinguished by their bright golden color (instead of the gray of the mountain reedbuck). The horns of male bohor reedbucks are longer and have hooked tips.

Mountain reedbuck are stockier than the similarly-sized rhebok (Pelea capreolus). The ears of the rhebok are much longer, and the horns of males lack the forward curve seen in the horns of mountain reedbuck.

Reproduction and Development

  • Gestation period: Approximately 8 months
  • Litter size: 1
  • Weaning: Unconfirmed, but before 1 year
  • Sexual maturity: Females as early as 9-12 months, but not fully mature until 18-24 months. Full maturity for males occurs later, around 27 months of age
  • Life span: Up to 14 years in captivity

Where conditions are favorable, breeding occurs year-round. In regions of South Africa with harsh winters most birth occur in the austral summer (especially November), while in East Africa birth are concentrated around the March to May rains. Infants are tucked away in dense vegetation by their mothers for at least one month, and remain hidden there unless visited for nursing.

Ecology and Behavior

Mountain reedbuck are active throughout the day and night, showing the most activity around dawn and dusk. They frequently rest when temperatures are high. Although the species is social (females are usually found in small herds), groups are not stable: individuals may switch groups regularly. Females occupy home ranges of 0.36-0.76 km2, which overlap several smaller male territories. The areas defended by males may vary from as small as 0.05 km2 to nearly 0.5 km2; body posturing and vocalizations are used to maintain boundaries between neighboring males. Females appear to prefer territories with steep slopes (used to escape from predators), regardless of the presence of food or water. Population densities are typically 5-7 animals per km2 in South Africa and 11-33 per km2 in East Africa.

  • Family group: Females and young live in small groups of 3-8 (sometimes up to 12) animals. Males are solitary and territorial, but associate with females as they pass through their territory. Immature males live in small bachelor groups.
  • Diet: Grass
  • Main Predators: Most sympatric large carnivores

Habitat and Distribution

Mountain reedbuck prefer steep, rugged terrain amongst grasslands at elevations between 1,400 and 2,000 m (some records exist as high as 5,000 m). There are three distinct populations (subspecies): the southern mountain reedbuck (R. f. fulvorufula) in South Africa, Chanler’s mountain reedbuck (R. f. chanleri) in East Africa, and Adamawa mountain reedbuck (R. f. adamauae) in Cameroon and Nigeria. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN Red List: Least Concern (2008)
  • CITES Listing: Not Listed (2011)
  • Threats: Competition from cattle grazing (and subsequent habitat degradation) and disturbance due to settlement and hunting

The estimated total population is approximately 36,000 animals (33,000 R. f. fulvorufula, 2,900 R. f. chanleri, and 450 R. f. adamauae).

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