Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Artiodactyla
Family Bovidae
Genus Kobus
Species Ellipsiprymnus

Waterbuck is within the antelope family, and although the name suggests some correlation, they are not really aquatic animals. The name is developed from the Latin word “Kobus” and from the African name “koba” which are related to the term “buck.” The Latin and scientific name is “Kobus ellipsiprymnus.”


Water Buck Facts and Description

Waterbucks are large antelopes which can measure over four feet at the shoulder. The shoulder height ranges from 47 to 54 inches (120 to 136 cm) and their tails measuring between 55 to 94 inches (140 to 240 cm). Males can weigh from 440 up to 660 pounds (200-300 kg) while their female counterparts can weigh up to 350 to 440 pounds (160-200 kg). The waterbuck typically has a reddish brown coat color however it will turn darker with their age.

Males have long and spiral-shaped horns while females will be without horns. The horns usually measure about 25 inches. There is a white-colored collar on their necks and their eyes have also white patches. They also have prominent rounded ears and they emit an unpleasant odor usually found in their resting areas.

picture of waterbuck

What are the sub-Species?

There are two species of waterbucks which include the Ellipse and the Defassa. Both the Defassa Ellipse or Common waterbucks have a collection of sub-species underneath them. They belong to the family of Bovids (Bovidae). Here is a snap-shot of the two species:

  • Ellipse or Common
  • Defassa

What do Water Buck eat?

Water bucks are herbivores with a diet composed mainly of grasses. Whenever the grass supply becomes poor in an area, they will migrate to new areas in search of food. However, their food sources must be near a water. The waterbuck does not hydrate with the moisture within the vegetation some some of the other antelope species. They are much more source dependent on drinking water as a supplement to their food. They eat coarse grasses that are leftovers by other grass eaters and they will also eat leaves from trees and some kinds of bushes.

waterbuck grazing

Waterbuck Mating Characteristics

Mating for waterbucks is done throughout the year. However, a peak in mating rates is recorded during winter season. Dominant males maintain a territory which they will defend with aggression and fighting. Herds are formed, However the composition of members fluctuates since each member can leave and join as they desire. Although they are called waterbucks, they do not really live in marshy or dominant water areas. As noted above thought, they look for habitats that have readily available water sources for drinking.

They just seek refuge in watery places whenever a predator is in search for them.

waterbuck mating

Water Buck Family and Social Characteristics

The gestation period is about nine months and they usually give birth to a single calf. Young ones are usually nursed up to six to eight months. Newborns are hidden for three weeks by their mothers. They go to their hiding place to suckle their babies. During these periods, mothers always keep their young clean and odorless to prevent predators from detecting their location. Within two to five weeks after giving birth, females are ready again for mating.

waterbuck herd

Where can you find Water Buck?

They are found near water sources but primarily in savanna habitats. The Defassa species stretches from Ethiopia and Senegal down to Zambia. The Ellipsen expands from S. Somalia down to South Africa.

Water Buck Pictures

waterbuck fighting picture of waterbuck young waterbuck