It wasn’t until I was reading a Mammal’s of Africa reference book five years ago that I learnt that there were different subspecies in Africa. I promised myself that I would have to get to see the Northern subspecies sometime in my life and I had that opportunity on a trip to Kenya’s Masai Mara.
The Defassa Waterbuck and the Ellipsen Waterbuck were formerly regarded as distinct species of buck as they were found in 2 main groups in Africa. Recently, as many as 13 subspecies have been identified and named with interbreeding occurring where the subspecies overlap.
The Ellipsen Waterbuck is the species that I grew up with in South Africa’s national parks. It can be identified by the grey-brown coat and the wonderfully ridged horns that sweep in an arc upwards (found only in males of both subspecies.). They also have small white bibs below their chin and the customary white ring on their rump.
The Defassa Waterbuck is found across northern sub-Saharan Africa and has a more pronounced reddish-grey coat than its southern cousin. Although it also sports a white bib under the chin, it has a solid white patch on its rump which is the main distinguishing feature. It took me a long while to get to photograph both these species.
Species: Kobus ellipsiprymnus
Sub-species: Kobus ellipsiprymnus ellipsiprymnus
Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa
For a quick read of all the other subspecies – Wikipedia
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