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Africa Geographic Travel

Preferring elevated areas free of seasonal extremes and close to permanent water sources, healthy numbers of the Uganda kob (Kobus kob thomasi) can be seen frolicking across Garamba National Park. This is one of the oldest national parks in Africa, which lies in the northeastern corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the species also occurs in southwest Sudan and is widespread across Uganda.

© Fanny Schertzer
© Fanny Schertzer

Highly vulnerable to poaching and habitat loss, which has caused severe population declines, the Uganda kob’s future is very much dependent on effective management of various protected areas. Such conservations measures should include leaving grassland near rivers undeveloped for grazing, and not hunting single females as they are likely to be caring for their young or in oestrous.

One of the biggest issues with Uganda kobs is that they are competing with livestock for land. As a result, kobs find themselves in competition with humans who are using land for agriculture.

Generally speaking, humans are one of their biggest threats and the kob is also commonly hunted for sport and food. In fact, a survey of bushmeat preferences in Cameroon ranked the kob as the third most favoured species. It is also an important food source for many larger predators, especially lions, cheetahs, African wild dogs, hyenas, and sometimes larger snakes.

© Jean Labuschagne/ African Parks
© Jean Labuschagne/ African Parks
© Jean Labuschagne/ African Parks
© Jean Labuschagne/ African Parks

Reminiscent of a chubby impala, here are 7 features that help to distinguish the Uganda kob from other antelope species.

1.  Females only visit male territories to breed, and males provide no parental care for their young.

© Matthias Mugisha
© Matthias Mugisha

2.  Males mark the boundaries of their territory by whistling.

3. You can identify the Uganda kob by the distinctive black stripe that marks the front of its forelegs.

© Matthias Mugisha
© Matthias Mugisha

4. Females begin to mate at the age of one, but males normally have to wait several more years.

5.  Kobs are herbivorous, eating grasses and reeds. They also may migrate great distances to graze along watercourses.

© Matthias Mugisha
© Matthias Mugisha

6.  Only the males have horns, which average at about 44cm in length and are ridged with transverse corrugations. They are also curved, turning up at the tips.

7.  The Uganda kobs exhibit ritualised fighting techniques to defend their territory from other males, and to determine superiority without killing, or even harming, their opponent. The horns are first held upright and rapidly tested against each other before interlocking with a simultaneous lowering of the heads until the noses are parallel to or touching the ground. As a result, the faces of territorial males are often black with mud during rainy periods. They then continue to push and twist their horns, exchange positions or move shoulder to shoulder with locked horns, which they release and then jam together again repeatedly.

© Jean Labuschagne/ African Parks
© Jean Labuschagne/ African Parks

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African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments, wildlife organisations and local communities. We operate thirteen national parks in nine countries: Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi and Benin. Please see www.african-parks.org or visit our Facebook page for more information.

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