Black lechwe (Kobus leche smithemani)

loading
Female black lechwe walking
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Black lechwe fact file

Black lechwe description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCetartiodactyla
FamilyBovidae
GenusKobus (1)

The black lechwe is one of three living subspecies of the lechwe, a water antelope of southern Africa (4). The long body is highest at the hindquarters and the hooves are elongated and spreading, which prevent the lechwe from sinking into the marshy ground of its habitat (5). Males possess long, thin lyre-shaped horns that are highly ridged (4). Lechwe have a long, greasy coat that differs in colour between the subspecies; the coast of K. l. smithemani is black, as the common name suggests (2).

Size
Shoulder height: 85 - 110 cm (2)
Length: 130 - 180 cm (2)
Weight
60 - 130 kg (2)
Top

Black lechwe biology

Black lechwe are found in large, loose herds in which no strict social system exists (2). Males tend to congregate on drier land than the females (2). Lechwe are at ease in water and may often be seen wading shoulder high in order to graze on the most nutritious plants (2). Mating occurs in the rainy season between November and February and males compete for access to females by forming what is known as a 'lekking system' (5). Males hold small areas (known as 'leks') within a common arena, and fight to hold prime locations in the centre of the group where there is greater access to females (2). A single young is born after a seven or eight month gestation period and is initially left in concealed areas on dry land while their mother feeds; she returns periodically to suckle her young (6).

The floodplain soil is highly fertile and nutritious grasses make up the majority of the lechwe diet. Herds will follow the seasonal floods, taking refuge in wooded areas if flooding is extreme (6). On land, these antelope appear slow and clumsy but they are able to out-run predators in the water thanks to their large, powerful hind legs which propel them in long leaps (5).

Top

Black lechwe range

Found in Zambia, southern Africa. The majority of the population occurs at Lake Bangweulu (5).

Top

Black lechwe habitat

Lechwe inhabit floodplains, bordering swamps (6).

Top

Black lechwe status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) by the IUCN Red List 2002 (1). Listed (at species level) on Appendix II of CITES (3).

Top

Black lechwe threats

Hunting and the construction of hydroelectric dams, which eliminate floodplain habitat by altering river systems, are the major threats to the survival of this aquatic antelope (2).

Top

Black lechwe conservation

Information not available at present.

Top

Find out more

For more information on the black lechwe see Ultimate Ungulate:
http://www.ultimateungulate.com

Top

Authentication

Authenticated (03/09/07) by Dr David Mallon, Co-chair of IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group.

Top

Glossary

Lekking system
System of mating in which males display collectively in an area known as a lek. Males compete for the best sites within the lek and females then choose whom to mate with on the basis of the display.
Subspecies
A different race of a species, which is geographically separated from other populations of that species.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2002)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Ultimate Ungulate (November, 2002)
    http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Kobus_leche.html
  3. CITES (November, 2002)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Alden, P.C. (1995) Collins Guide to African Wildlife. HarperCollins, London.
  6. Animal Diversity Web (November, 2002)
    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/kobus/k._leche$narrative.html
X
Close

Image credit

Female black lechwe walking  
Female black lechwe walking

© M. Watson / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Black lechwe (Kobus leche smithemani) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog RSS