Scientifically known as Tragelaphus scriptus, the bushbucks are African antelopes that inhabit area of Eastern and sub-Saharan Africa within the savannah mosaics, semi-deserts, montane forests, woodland and bush savannah forests as well as rainforests. They can easily thrive in both dry and moist climates as long as there is plenty of food and shelter from their predators such as lions and leopards.
According to genetic studies, the bushbucks are sub-divided into two geographical and phenotypically distinct species that include the Imbabala and the Kwel. When it comes to distribution, the latter occupy areas from Senegal and southern Mauritania across the Sahel region to Ethiopia and the Eritrea and south to Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola while the former are found in South Africa extending to Angola as well as Zambia through Eastern Africa to Somalia and Ethiopia.
The male bushbucks (bulls) are often believed to be very dangerous according to traditional African and sport hunters. These antelopes are threatened by the high rates of habitat loss that has in the past and now reduced their population but are luckily still many in the wild.
They are mainly browsers although sometimes consume grass. Bushbucks are known to be selective feeders too but during scarcity, they are able to adapt to different feeding habits so as to survive. They are said to be active for 24 hours although are mainly nocturnal near human settlements.
Their lifespan is said to be 12 years in the wild and more than 15 years in captivity with limited competition for space and resources as well as fewer cases of predation.
They are largely solitary much as some of them live in pairs. These antelopes are about 90 centimeters high at their shoulders and weigh from 45 to 80 kilograms, based on sex.
They have light-brown coats that contain up to seven white stripes along with side white patches. The white spots of these antelopes are geometrically shaped and on most body parts such as chins, ears, tails, legs as well as necks.
Their muzzles are while whereas horns exist in only males and measure up to half a meter on a single twist. The infants grow horns at around 10 months of age and are twisted with spiral loops during maturity.
Bushbucks occupy home ranges of about 50,000 square meters on savannah habitats but are relatively larger within the forested areas. However, their home ranges usually overlap for some of them and are mainly active early morning and sometimes at night.
Their gestation period is 6 months, after which a single calf is born. Newborns are cleaned by their mothers and well hidden but only visited for breastfeeding. They are weaned at 4 months but most times play and chase each other until old enough to take care of themselves. Surprisingly, mothers always eat dung of their young ones to leave no traces that may attract predators.
Due to their small sizes, they are susceptible to predators and run when encounter them although sometimes the males will fight bravely if attacked. Their enemies are mainly hunting dogs, lions, cheetahs, leopards, crocodiles and hyenas. Their young ones have often been victims to golden and serval cats, chimpanzees, eagles, baboons and pythons.
They are herbivores and selective feeders that feed on mainly leguminous herbs and shrubs as well as fallen fruits, flowers, acacia pods, tubers and barks. They always need drinking water although can sometimes depend on dew if necessary.
Unlike buffaloes, the bushbucks dislike oxpeckers, thus the reason they have many ticks on their necks and heads.