Adult male waterbuck establish territories (3), which they guard from other males through displays and combat (4), using their prominent horns. Female and young waterbuck form herds of up to 30 individuals, which move freely through a number of male territories (3). Young males may form bachelor herds, until the opportunity arises to usurp an adult male from his territory (3). The strong, musky scent of waterbucks (3), caused by the oily secretion that coats the fur, is particularly pungent in males (5), and enables them to find other waterbuck. Unfortunately, this useful means of detection also makes them more vulnerable to being found by predators such as lions and hyenas (2).
As waterbucks roam around their range, they graze on a variety of grasses, which are unusually high in protein. This diet is supplemented with reeds, rushes (5), and even sometimes fruits, particularly when green grass is scarce (2). Waterbucks drink an unusually large amount of water for an antelope, hence the reason why they are never found too far from a water source (5).
During the mating season, adult males attempt to hold females as they wander through their territory, for mating (3). The gestation period lasts for over eight months, and the female gives birth to a single young, which remains hidden in vegetation for at least the first two weeks of life (2). After this period, the calf begins to join its mother and the herd (3), the mother’s raised tail serving as a signal to follow (2). At the age of six months the young is weaned. Female waterbuck reach maturity at about three years of age (3), while males leave their mother’s herd at about eight or nine months to join a bachelor herd (4), but are unable to compete for their own territory until five or six years old (2) (3). Waterbuck are known to live for up to 18 years (2).