The Roan antelope is a large antelope with a horse-like build. Named for its roan color (a reddish-brown), it has a lighter underbelly, white eyebrows and cheeks, and black face, lighter in females. The Roan antelope has short, erect manes, a very light beard, and prominent red nostrils. The horns are ringed and can reach a meter long in males, slightly shorter in females; they arch backward slightly.
Roan antelopes are found in West, Central, and Southern Africa. They live in woodland and in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands.
Roan antelopes are gregarious animals. They form harem groups of 5 to 15 females with a dominant male. They commonly fight among themselves for dominance of their herd, brandishing their horns while both animals are on their knees. Young males usually leave the herd where they were born when they are 2 years old and join bachelor herds; at the age of about 6 years, they will try to establish their own territory. Roan antelopes are usually active during the early hours of the day and in the evening. They spend their time grazing, browsing, and may even enter the water to eat aquatic plants. Roan antelopes are shy but very brave animals and when threatened by predators, they won't hesitate to confront them.
Roan antelopes have a polygynous mating system in which one male mate with more than one female. They may breed at any time of the year. The gestation period usually lasts about 9 months and the female gives birth to a single calf. One or two weeks before giving birth she will leave the herd to choose and safe place with tall grass. Once the calf is born, the female returns to the herd and will visit her calf at dusk and spend the night with it. The young stays hidden for about 4-5 weeks after birth before it's strong enough to join the herd. Weaning usually occurs at the age of 6 months and reproductive maturity - between 2 and 6 years old.
Habitat loss and poaching are the main causes to the decline of the Roan antelope populations. At present these beautiful animals mainly survive only in or near protected areas.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Roan antelope population size is around 76,000 individuals. Populations of this species have been estimated in the following areas: Burkina Faso - more than 7,370 individuals; Cameroon - more than 6,070 individuals; Zambia - more than 5,080 individuals and Tanzania - more than 4,310 individuals. Overall, currently, the Roan antelope is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Due to their grazing habits, Roan antelopes assist in cycle plant/grass nutrients into further areas. The young, as well as adults, also serve as prey for large local predators.