Lechwe

Lechwe

Red lechwe, Southern lechwe

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Kobus leche
Population size
158,750
Life Span
15 yrs
WEIGHT
70-120 kg
HEIGHT
90-100 cm

Lechwe are graceful antelopes found in wetlands of south-central Africa. They are golden brown in color with white bellies. Males are darker than females and only males have horns. The horns are long, spiral-structured and are vaguely lyre-shaped. The hind legs of lechwe are somewhat longer in proportion than in other antelopes; this is an adaptation to ease long-distance running in marshy soil.

Di

Diurnal

He

Herbivore

Gr

Graminivore

Te

Terrestrial

Cu

Cursorial

Gr

Grazing

So

Social

He

Herding

Do

Dominance hierarchy

L

starts with

Distribution

Geography

Lechwe are native to Botswana, Zambia, the southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeastern Namibia, and eastern Angola, especially in the Okavango Delta, Kafue Flats, and the Bangweulu Swamps. These antelopes live in wetlands and marshy areas. They are usually found in light woodlands, floodplain grasslands, and water-meadows, around swamps and lagoons.

Lechwe habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Lechwe are diurnal and social animals. They gather in herds which can include many thousands of individuals. Herds are usually all of one sex, but during mating season they mix. Females and calves are usually found near wet areas as they depend on water. Males do not require as much water and usually stay far from water sources. Males compete for their territories only during the rut and the rest of the year they live in bachelor herds. Female herds are always changing and don't have a specific leader. Lechwe feed in the knee-deep water and also use it as protection from predators. Their legs are covered in a water-repellant substance which allows them to run quite fast at such depth. If needed they may also swim across deep-water areas.

Diet and Nutrition

Lechwe are herbivores (graminivores). They feed mainly on aquatic grasses.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
November-February
PREGNANCY DURATION
7-8 months
BABY CARRYING
1 calf
INDEPENDENT AGE
5-6 months
FEMALE NAME
doe
MALE NAME
buck
BABY NAME
calf

During the breeding season, these antelopes form breeding areas known as leks. Breeding usually takes place during the rains, between November and February. Females give birth to a single calf after the gestation period that lasts 7-8 months. They give birth singly or in small groups in covered and dry areas where newborn calves stay hidden for 2-3 weeks. Later calves will form groups of up to 50 individuals, which are mainly independent of their mothers. Young are usually weaned at 5-6 months of age. Females in this species become reproductively mature at 1,5 years of age, while males are ready to breed when they are 5 years old.

Population

Population threats

Main threats to lechwe include poaching for meat, droughts, competition with livestock and building of dams. For example, in 1970 the construction of hydroelectric dams has changed the natural flooding cycle because the water flow on the Kafue floodplain has been regulated almost entirely by human needs. This has caused a great decline in the lechwe population.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of lechwe is around 158,750 individuals, including 80,000 Red lechwe; 49,036 Black lechwe; 28,711 Kafue Lechwe and around 1,000 Upemba lechwe. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

References

1. Lechwe on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lechwe
2. Lechwe on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/11033/50189021

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