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Africa Geographic Yearbook 2016

Lechwe Lechery


It is the time of the year along the Linyanti River in Botswana’s far north, when several of the local antelope species are occupying themselves with courtship and mating rituals and activities. At least the males are, whilst to the casual observer it would seem that in most cases the females are just going about with their usual business of eating vegetation and gathering in herds.

The strikingly coloured red lechwe antelope are fine examples. Right now the males are looking in as good a condition as one could ever imagine, with their forelegs boldly coloured in black, and their eyes bright. The strongest of the male lechwe are moving amongst the herds of females, and seeking out mating opportunities.


Getting to this stage for a male is a hard won achievement, as they have to battle other males along the way, and even now, there are continuous clashes between rival males. The females show little visible interest in the males activities. However, they have no choice but to get involved in the action at times.

What usually happens is a female attempts to move off in the direction of another male, and this typically triggers a strong response from any male who happens to consider that particular female as belonging to him at the time. The male sets off immediately in pursuit of the errant female, and basically forces her to turn back.


This often results in long and spectacular chases, as red lechwe like living in **or** near shallow water, and the runs often take place in the water.

If a female gets too far ahead, and enters an area occupied by another large male, the pursuing male usually gives up, but more often they are able to head off the females before they escape.


Male red lechwe expend large amounts of energy during this time of year whilst this is going on.

They can be found in many parts of the Okavango Delta, as well as the northern wetlands like Savuti, Linyanti and the Chobe.

I am a South African who grew up in the former Transkei, (now the Eastern Cape) and I spent much of my time along the Wild Coast. For over ten years I have been working as a guide in northern Botswana, for a company called Wilderness Safaris. I spend many days of each year leading photographic safari trips with small groups of people through our fixed camps in the Kalahari, Okavango, Linyanti and Savuti regions, mostly. My special interests are birds, lions and photography, in no special order. When I am not guiding in the field, I take part in some of our companies environmental projects. Botswana is a country with a solid conservation ethic, and I am fortunate to be able to share some of what I do and see by means of my writing and my images. Visit my photography page


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