|A male at the Oji Zoo, Kobe, Japan|
|The range map of sitatunga|
The sitatunga (Tragelaphusspekii), sometimes called the marshbuck,  is a swamp-dwelling medium-sized antelope found throughout central Africa, centering on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, parts of Southern Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Ghana, Botswana, Rwanda, Zambia, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The sitatunga is mostly confined to swampy and marshy habitats. Here they occur in tall and dense vegetation as well as seasonal swamps, marshy clearings in forests, riparian thickets and mangrove swamps.
|Phylogenetic relationships of the mountain nyala from combined analysis of all molecular data (Willows-Munro et.al. 2005)|
The scientific name of the sitatunga is Tragelaphus spekii. The species was first described by the English explorer John Hanning Speke in 1863.   Speke first observed the sitatunga at a lake named "Little Windermere" (now Lake Lwelo, located in Kagera, Tanzania). In his book Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, Speke called the animal "nzoé" (Kiswahili name for the animal) or "water-boc" (due to its resemblance to the waterbuck).  The scientific name has often been misstated as T. spekei, and either Speke or Sclater is referred to as the binomial authority.
Speke had stated in a footnote in his book that the species had been named Tragelaphus spekii by English zoologist Philip Sclater.  However, according to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (Article 50.1.1) and the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, that acknowledge the person who first described the species, simply declaring Sclater as the authority in a footnote is insufficient to recognise him as the author.  Hence, Speke was recognised as the correct authority and T. spekii (where spekii is the genitive of the Latinised "Spekius") was considered the correct name for the species. 
The sitatunga is placed under the genus Tragelaphus and in the family Bovidae. In 2005, Sandi Willows-Munro of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban) carried out a mitochondrial analysis of the nine Tragelaphus species. mtDNA and nDNA data were compared. The results showed that sitatunga plus bongo (T. eurycerus) form a monophyletic clade with the mountain nyala (T. buxtoni) and bushbuck (T. scriptus).  The greater kudu (T. strepsiceros) split from this clade approximately 8.6 million years ago.  
Within Tragelaphus, the bushbuck, bongo, sitatunga and nyala (T. angasii) are particularly close relatives. The bushbuck and sitatunga are genetically similar enough to hybridise.  Hybrids between bongo and sitatunga have proved to be fertile.   The sitatunga is more variable in its general characters than any other member of the tribe Strepsicerotini, that consists of the genera Taurotragus (elands) and Tragelaphus, probably because of their confinement to swampy and marshy habitats. 
On the basis of physical characteristics such as hair texture, coat colour and the coat stripes, up to ten subspecies of the sitatunga have been described. However, these factors may not be reliable since hair texture could vary with the climate, while pelage colour and markings vary greatly among individuals. Moreover, the coat might darken and the stripes and spots on it might fade with age, especially in males.  The species might even be monotypic,  however, based on different drainage systems, three distinct subspecies are currently recognised:  
The sitatunga is a medium-sized antelope. It is sexually dimorphic, with males considerably larger than females. The head-and-body length is typically between 136–177 cm (54–70 in) in males and 104–146 cm (41–57 in) in females. Males reach approximately 81–116 cm (32–46 in) at the shoulder, while females reach 72–90 cm (28–35 in). Males typically weigh 76–119 kg (168–262 lb), while females weigh 24–57 kg (53–126 lb). The tail is 14–37 cm (5.5–14.6 in) long. The saucer-shaped ears are 11–17 cm (4.3–6.7 in) long.  Only the males possess horns; these are spiral in shape, have one or two twists and are 45–92 cm (18–36 in) long. The sitatunga is almost indistinguishable from the nyala, except in pelage and spoor.  Speke pointed out that, though "closely allied" to the waterbuck, the sitatunga lacks stripes and is spotted instead. 
The coat colour varies geographically, but, in general, is a rufous red in juveniles and chestnut in females.  There are white facial markings, as well as several stripes and spots all over, though they are only faintly visible. White patches can be seen on the throat, near the head and the chest.  A pair of inguinal scent glands are present.  The coats of males darken with age, becoming gray to dark brown. Males develop a rough and scraggy mane, usually brown in colour, and a white dorsal stripe.  There is a chevron between the eyes of the males. 
The body and legs of this antelope are specially adapted to its swampy habitat. The hooves of the male are elongated and widely splayed.  The rubbery, shaggy, water-repellent coat is minimally affected by slimy and muddy vegetation. The wedge-like shape and lowering of the head, coupled with the backward bend of the horns (in males) provides for easy navigation through dense vegetation. The pasterns are flexible,  and the hooves, banana-like in shape,  can reach a length of up to 16 cm (6.3 in) in the hindlegs and 18 cm (7.1 in) in the forelegs.  The pointed toes allow it to walk slowly and almost noiselessly through the water.  Moreover, the colour of the coat provides an excellent camouflage. Hearing is acute, and the ears are so structured that the animal can accurately determine the direction from where a sound has originated. This adaptation is of profound use in habitats where long sight is of very little value due to the density and darkness of the environment. 
Sitatunga are active mainly during the early hours after dawn, the last one or two hours before dusk, and at night,  and spend a large part of this time feeding.  Basically sedentary, they rest in flat areas and reed beds, especially during the hotter part of the day.   They seldom leave their swamp habitat during the daytime.  Though sitatunga commonly form pairs or remain solitary, larger groups have also been observed. A study in Kenya recorded a herd of as many as nine individuals, comprising an adult male, four females and four juveniles.  Loose groups may be formed but interaction among individuals is very low.  Individuals generally associate only with their own sex. 
The sitatunga is not territorial. Males may engage in locking horns with other males and attacking vegetation using their horns.  They may perform feinting by raising their forelegs with the hindlegs rooted in the ground as a threat display. Sitatunga interact with each other by first touching their noses, which may be followed by licking each other and nibbling. Alarmed animals may stand motionless, with the head held high and one leg raised. Sitatunga may occasionally emit a series of coughs or barks, usually at night, which may cause other animals to join in, and these sounds can be heard across the swamp. This barking may be used by females to warn off other females. Males often utter a low bellow on coming across a female or a herd of females in the mating season. A low-pitched squeak may be uttered while feeding. Mothers communicate with their calves by bleats. 
Sitatunga can feed or rest close to southern lechwe herds, but do not interact with them. They often attract yellow-billed oxpeckers, African jacanas and great egrets. Sitatunga are good swimmers, but limit themselves to water with profuse vegetation in order to escape crocodiles. In some cases, for instance when troubled by flies or pursued by predators, the sitatunga might fully submerge themselves in the water except for the nose and the eyes, which they keep slightly above the water surface. Due to its close association with water, the sitatunga are often described as "aquatic antelopes", like the waterbuck.   They often dry themselves under the sun after feeding in water.  Predators of the sitatunga include lions, wild dogs, crocodiles and leopards. 
Sitatunga are selective and mixed feeders. They feed mainly on new foliage, fresh grasses, sedges and browse. Preferred plants include: bullrushes ( Typha ), sedges ( Cyperus ), aquatic grasses ( Vossia , Echinochloa , Pennisetum , Leersia , Acroceras and Panicum . Species in Umbelliferae and Acanthaceae are preferred in Saiwa Swamp National Park (Kenya), and Fabaceae species are preferred in Bangweulu and Busanga (in Kafue National Park).  They feed mostly in the wetland fringes. Diet preferences may vary seasonally in swamps where water levels change notably. Like the gerenuk, the sitatunga may stand on its hindlegs to reach higher branches of trees, or even use its horns to pull down the branches. 
A study recorded forty major species eaten by the animal, the majority of which were herbs. Sweet potato was the most preferred crop. The study predicted an increase in preference for crops due to seasonal food variations.  Another study showed that annual floods affect the seasonal movement and diet of the species. These floods force the animals out of the reed beds onto the flooded grasslands when the water levels are high. At low water levels the cattle take over the flooded plains and send the sitatunga back to their original place. 
Females are sexually mature by one year of age, while males take one-and-a-half-year before they mature. Breeding occurs throughout the year. When females gather, the males compete among each other for the right to mate, showing polygyny in males.  The rutting male approaches the female in a lower bending posture, sniffing her vulva. The female may move slowly or react nervously. Even if the female flees, the male continues pursuing her steadily, without showing any sign of hurry. A receptive female will raise her head with her mouth wide open, following which the male will begin attempts at mounting. At the time of mounting the female lowers her head, while the male first bends and then straightens his forelegs and rests his head and neck on her back. The two remain together for one or two days, during which time the male ensures that no other male can approach the female. 
Gestation lasts for nearly eight months, after which generally a single calf is born. Parturition occurs throughout the year, though a peak may occur in the dry season.  Calves are hidden adroitly, and brought out of cover only in the presence of many other sitatunga. The mother gazes and nods at the calf to summon it for nursing. A calf follows its mother about even after she has given birth to another calf. The mother suckles and licks her calf for about six months. The calf takes time to master the specialised gait of the sitatunga, and thus often loses its balance and falls in water.  Males, and even some females, have been observed to leave their herds even before reaching sexual maturity due to intrasexual competition.  Lifespan recorded in captivity averages 22 to 23 years. 
The sitatunga is an amphibious antelope (meaning it can live on both land and water) confined to swampy and marshy habitats.  They occur in tall and dense vegetation of perennial as well as seasonal swamps, marshy clearings in forests, riparian thickets and mangrove swamps.  Sitatunga move along clearly marked tracks in their swampy habitat, often leading to reed beds.  These tracks, up to 7 m (23 ft) wide, can lead to feeding grounds and nearby riverine forests.  The sitatunga hold small home ranges near water bodies  In savannas, they are typically found in stands of papyrus and reeds ( Phragmites species and Echinochloa pyramidalis ). They share their habitat with the Nile lechwe in the Sudd swamps and with the southern lechwe in Angola, Botswana and Zambia. 
The sitatunga is native to Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is extinct in Niger, where it formerly occurred in the Lake Chad region, and is feared to be extinct in Togo, where its habitat has been taken over by dense human settlements. While it is localised and sporadic in western Africa, the sitatunga is still common in the forests of central Africa and certain swampy regions in central, eastern and southern Africa.  
Habitat loss is the most severe threat to the survival of the sitatunga. Other threats include the increasing loss of wetlands, that has isolated populations; and long-term changes in the water level, that affects the nearby vegetation and thus bears upon their diet. Vast areas of Bangweulu and Busanga are burnt every year, placing animals like the sitatunga at grave risk given the inflammability of swamps.  The sitatunga has been classified under the Least Concern category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN),  and under Appendix III (Ghana) of the Washington Convention (CITES). 
In Senegal, intensive hunting for meat and habitat degradation have made the sitatunga very rare. Formerly it was common throughout Gambia, but now it is confined to a few inaccessible swamps; a population has been introduced in the Abuko Nature Reserve. On the other hand, though the animal is hunted by locals primarily for food, Botswana still supports a large portion of the total population. The species is of great economic significance for northern Botswana, that produces some of the world's biggest sitatunga trophies.   Its status is unclear in Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Burundi and Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Significant populations still exist in countries such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Tanzania and Zambia.  The inaccessibility of its habitat has rendered population estimates very difficult. In 1999, Rod East of the IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group estimated a total population of 170,000, but this is likely to be an overestimate. Its numbers are decreasing in areas of heavy human settlement, but are stable elsewhere. 
Around 40 percent of the populations (based on the overestimate of 170,000) occurs in protected areas, mainly in Okavango Delta and Linyanti and Chobe swamps (Botswana); Dja Faunal Reserve and Lobéké National Park (Cameroon); Bangassou (Central African Republic); Odzala National Park, Lake Télé Community Reserve, Likouala and Salonga National Park (The Democratic Republic of Congo); Monte Alén National Park (Equatorial Guinea); Saiwa Swamp National Park (Kenya); Akagera National Park (Rwanda); Moyowosi and Kigosi Game Reserves (Tanzania); Bangweulu and Busanga Swamps (Zambia). However, only a few are of these parks and reserves are well-protected and managed.  
The bongo is a large, mostly nocturnal, forest-dwelling antelope, native to sub-Saharan Africa. Bongos are characterised by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings, white-yellow stripes and long slightly spiralled horns. It is the only tragelaphid in which both sexes have horns. Bongos have a complex social interaction and are found in African dense forest mosaics. They are the third-largest antelope in the world.
The springbok or springbuck is a medium-sized antelope found mainly in south and southwest Africa. The sole member of the genus Antidorcas, this bovid was first described by the German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1780. Three subspecies are identified. A slender, long-legged antelope, the springbok reaches 71 to 86 cm at the shoulder and weighs between 27 and 42 kg. Both sexes have a pair of black, 35-to-50 cm (14-to-20 in) long horns that curve backwards. The springbok is characterised by a white face, a dark stripe running from the eyes to the mouth, a light-brown coat marked by a reddish-brown stripe that runs from the upper fore leg to the buttocks across the flanks like the Thomson's gazelle, and a white rump flap.
The lowland nyala or simply nyala, is a spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Tragelaphus, previously placed in genus Nyala. It was first described in 1849 by George French Angas. The body length is 135–195 cm (53–77 in), and it weighs 55–140 kg (121–309 lb). The coat is maroon or rufous brown in females and juveniles, but grows a dark brown or slate grey, often tinged with blue, in adult males. Females and young males have ten or more white stripes on their sides. Only males have horns, 60–83 cm (24–33 in) long and yellow-tipped. It exhibits the highest sexual dimorphism among the spiral-horned antelopes. It is not to be confused with the endangered mountain nyala living in the Bale region of Ethiopia).
The klipspringer is a small antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of its genus and subfamily/tribe, the klipspringer was first described by German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1783. The klipspringer is a small, sturdy antelope; it reaches 43–60 centimetres at the shoulder and weighs from 8 to 18 kilograms. The coat of the klipspringer, yellowish gray to reddish brown, acts as an efficient camouflage in its rocky habitat. Unlike most other antelopes, the klipspringer has a thick and coarse coat with hollow, brittle hairs. The horns, short and spiky, typically measure 7.5–9 cm.
The mountain nyala or balbok, is a large antelope found in high altitude woodlands in a small part of central Ethiopia. It is a monotypic species first described by English naturalist Richard Lydekker in 1910. The males are typically 120–135 cm (47–53 in) tall while females stand 90–100 cm (35–39 in) at the shoulder. Males weigh 180–300 kg (400–660 lb) and females weigh 150–200 kg (330–440 lb). The coat is grey to brown, marked with two to five poorly defined white strips extending from the back to the underside, and a row of six to ten white spots. White markings are present on the face, throat and legs as well. Males have a short dark erect crest, about 10 cm (3.9 in) high, running along the middle of the back. Only males possess horns.
The lesser kudu is a medium-sized bushland antelope, found in East Africa. It is placed in the genus Tragelaphus and family Bovidae. It was first scientifically described by the English zoologist Edward Blyth in 1869. The head-and-body length is typically 110–140 cm (43–55 in). Males reach about 95–105 cm (37–41 in) at the shoulder, while females reach 90–100 cm (35–39 in). Males typically weigh 92–108 kg (203–238 lb) and females 56–70 kg (123–154 lb). The females and juveniles have a reddish-brown coat, while the males become yellowish grey or darker after the age of 2 years. Horns are present only on males. The spiral horns are 50–70 cm (20–28 in) long, and have two to two-and-a-half twists.
The greater kudu is a large woodland antelope, found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas due to declining habitat, deforestation, and poaching. The greater kudu is one of two species commonly known as kudu, the other being the lesser kudu, T. imberbis.
The common eland, also known as the southern eland or eland antelope, is a large-sized savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Taurotragus. An adult male is around 1.6 m (5 ft) tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 942 kg (2,077 lb) with a typical range of 500–600 kg (1,100–1,300 lb), 340–445 kg (750–981 lb) for females). It is the second-largest antelope in the world, being slightly smaller on average than the giant eland. It was scientifically described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1766.
The giant eland, also known as the Lord Derby's eland and greater eland, is an open-forest and savanna antelope. A species of the family Bovidae and genus Taurotragus, it was described in 1847 by John Edward Gray. The giant eland is the largest species of antelope, with a body length ranging from 220–290 cm (86.5–114 in). There are two subspecies: T. d. derbianus and T. d. gigas.
The sable antelope is a large antelope which inhabits wooded savanna in East and Southern Africa, from the south of Kenya to South Africa, with a separated population in Angola.
The hirola, also called the Hunter's hartebeest or Hunter's antelope, is a critically endangered antelope species found on the border between Kenya and Somalia. It was first described by the big game hunter and zoologist H.C.V. Hunter in 1888. It is the only living member of the genus Beatragus, though other species are known from the fossil record. The global hirola population is estimated at 300–500 animals and there are none in captivity. According to a document produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature "the loss of the hirola would be the first extinction of a mammalian genus on mainland Africa in modern human history".
The common tsessebe or sassaby is the southern, nominate subspecies of Damaliscus lunatus, although some authorities have recognised it as an independent species. It is most closely related to the Bangweulu tsessebe, sometimes also seen as a separate species, less to the topi, korrigum, coastal topi and tiang subspecies of D. lunatus, and less to the bontebok in the same genus. Common tsessebe are found in Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, and South Africa.
The lechwe, red lechwe, or southern lechwe is an antelope found in wetlands of south-central Africa.
The Nile lechwe or Mrs Gray's lechwe is an endangered species of antelope found in swamps and grasslands in Sudan and Ethiopia.
The puku is a medium-sized antelope found in wet grasslands in southern Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and more concentrated in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Nearly one-third of all puku are found in protected areas, zoos, and national parks due to their diminishing habitat.
The bohor reedbuck is an antelope native to central Africa. The animal is placed under the genus Redunca and in the family Bovidae. It was first described by German zoologist and botanist Peter Simon Pallas in 1767. The bohor reedbuck has five subspecies. The head-and-body length of this medium-sized antelope is typically between 100–135 cm (39–53 in). Males reach approximately 75–89 cm (30–35 in) at the shoulder, while females reach 69–76 cm (27–30 in). Males typically weigh 43–65 kg (95–143 lb) and females 35–45 kg (77–99 lb). This sturdily built antelope has a yellow to grayish brown coat. Only the males possess horns which measure about 25–35 cm (9.8–13.8 in) long.
The red-flanked duiker is a species of small antelope found in western and central Africa in countries as far apart as Senegal and Sudan. Red-flanked duikers grow to almost 15 in (35 cm) in height and weigh up to 31 lb (14 kg). They have russet coats, with greyish-black legs and backs, and white underbellies. They feed on leaves, fallen fruits, seeds and flowers, and sometimes twigs and shoots. The adults are territorial, living in savannah and lightly wooded habitats, and the females usually produce a single offspring each year. They have lifespans of ten to fifteen years in captivity.
Damaliscus lunatus is a large African antelope of the genus Damaliscus and subfamily Alcelaphinae in the family Bovidae, with a number of recognised geographic subspecies. Some authorities have split the different populations of the species into different species, although this is seen as controversial. Common names include topi, sassaby, tiang and tsessebe
The wildlife of Zambia refers to the natural flora and fauna of Zambia. This article provides an overview, and outline of the main wildlife areas or regions, and compact lists of animals focusing on prevalence and distribution in the country rather than on taxonomy. More specialized articles on particular groups are linked from here.
The tribe Tragelaphini, or the spiral-horned antelopes, are bovines that are endemic to sub-Sahara Africa. These include the bushbuck, kudus, and the elands. The scientific name is in reference to the mythical creature the tragelaph, a Chimera with the body of a stag and the head of a goat. They are medium-to-large, tall, long-legged antelopes characterized by their iconic twisted horns and striking pelage coloration patterns.