Lechwe

Like other members of the Kobus genus, lechwes live close to water. This species is most closely associated with floodplains, where the land is covered by shallow water for some of the year. They live in the floodplains of the Zambesi River, which runs through Zambia and Mozambique, and the Okavango, which rises in Angola and forms a huge wetland in Botswana.

Lechwes often feed while up to their chests in water. To help them walk through mud and across river beds, these antelopes have long hooves that spread the weight and prevent them from sinking into soft ground.

Lechwes spend long periods wading through water, eating the lush grass that grows there. A grazing animal living in water must face a series of challenges not seen on dry land. For example, the normal fast-running gait of antelopes that allows them to escape from predators is not very efficient in water because the fur on their legs become waterlogged, slowing the antelopes down. The hairs on a lechwe's lower leg, by contrast, are waterproofed with oils to prevent this from happening. They also run in giant bounds rather than gallops. Overall this method is slower than running on land, but no other antelope can beat a lechwe through water.

Distribution: Southern Africa.

Habitat: Floodplains.

Food: Grasses.

Size: 1.3 - 1.8 m (4.25 - 6 ft); 60 - 130 kg (132.25 - 286.5 lb).

Maturity: 2 years; males unlikely to breed until the age of 5.

Breeding: Mating takes place before rainy season.

Life span: 20 years.

Status: Lower risk.

Nile lechwe

Nile lechwes live in the marshlands of southern Sudan and western Ethiopia. Their wetland habitats are fed by water from the White and Blue Niles. They are smaller than their southern cousins. There is also a more obvious difference between the males and females: as well as lacking horns, the females have pale brown coats, while males are a blackish-brown.

Size: 1.4 - 1.7 m (4.5 - 5.5 ft); 60 - 120 kg (132.25 - 264.5 lb).

Gallery of Lechwe