The roan antelope is an even-toed ruminant native to the African savanna. Roan antelopes are one of the largest African antelope species. However, only three species can beat them in weight. Roan antelopes belong to the genus Hippotragus and subfamily Hippotraginae. There are a total of 6 subspecies of roan antelopes distributed in several regions of Africa.
Our wildlife guide to the roan antelope covers all the features of this animal. Let’s quickly get to the section for knowing more about the roan antelopes in detail.
- Latin name: Hippotragus equinus
- Family name: Bovidae
- Size: 190-240 centimeters
- Weight: 223-300 kilograms
Skip to: Characteristics, Range & habitat, Diet, Behaviour, Fun facts, Video
Roan antelope characteristics
Roan antelopes or the Hippotragus equinus have a horse-like appearance. The Latin epithet “equinus” means “horse-like”. The term “roan” is associated with the horses. It is a type of horse coat color that is characterized by a mixture of both colored and white hairs. So, the antelope that has this coloring pattern of horses on its body is referred to as a roan antelope.
However, roan antelopes are one of the largest species among the even-toed ungulates. Their height is 190-240 cm from head to the base. The tail is 37-48 cm long. Roan antelopes weigh between 242-300 kg. Whereas, female antelopes are a little bit lighter than the males. They weigh between 223-280 kg. Their shoulder is around 130-140 cm.
As it is mentioned earlier, the roan antelope has a roan color or a reddish-brown coat. The underbelly is lighter than the upper body. Moreover, it has white eyebrows. Like other familiar antelope species, they also have a black mark on their face and it is comparably lighter in female roan antelopes.
Their manes are short and erect. In adult roan antelopes, light beards and prominent red nostrils can be seen. They have ringed horns that can grow close to 100 cm. The horn arches backward a little.
Range & habitat
Roan antelopes live in woodland and grassland savanna. They are mainly found in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands. Their habitats range in tree density from the forest with a grass cover to grasslands scattered with few trees.
Let’s have a look at the roan antelope subspecies and know more about their range and habitat below.
- e. bakeri: These roan antelopes are generally found in East Africa, specifically in Sudan. They live in the grassland savannas there.
- e. cottoni: These roan antelopes were discovered and named in 1928. They are mostly found in Angola, Botswana, the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, central and northern Malawi, and Zambia. Their range is limited to Southern Africa
- e. equinus: It was the first roan antelope species to be discovered in 1803. The equinus antelopes are found in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. They don’t share their habitat with cottoni subspecies.
- e. koba: These subspecies of roan antelopes live from Senegal to Benin. They are native to West Africa.
- e. langheldi: These roan antelopes are native to East Africa. They are found in Burundi, the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
- e. scharicus: The scharicus subspecies of roan antelopes are native to Central Africa. They are mostly found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, and eastern Nigeria.
Roan antelopes are herbivores like other antelope species. They mainly eat mid-length grasses. Apart from that, they also eat other plant materials. They are both grazers and browsers. When grassland is available, they graze and sometimes browse leaves from trees. Some subspecies eat tougher grass layers and leave the shorter grass. They daily consume 1.5-2% of their weight in dry matter. The roan antelopes mostly use the water from the food they eat, when there isn’t any water source available.
Behavior & lifestyle
Roan antelopes show a similar kind of behavior and lifestyle as other antelopes. They live in groups. There are specific harem groups in roan antelopes. The size of the harem can vary from 5-15 animals. A dominant male leads the herd.
Their short and smooth coat is brown to amber. For this reason, they can easily camouflage in their surroundings and keep themselves safe from predators.
They are fast runners, though not the fastest animals on the savanna. Their movement is agile and they have good endurance.
Fun roan antelope facts
Here is a list of “Top 5 Fun Roan antelope Facts“. You can read the list below.
- Sometimes, roan antelopes are confused with sable antelopes. The adult males of both the species are darker. But, the male sable antelopes are brownish-black.
- Roan antelopes fight among themselves for showing domination. The male antelopes fight by brandishing their horse while both the males are on their knees.
- Roan antelopes seem to have lived in the Nelson Bay Cave region, a Stone Age archaeological site in South Africa.
- Roan antelopes have large hooves that support their long legs.
- Roan antelopes don’t shed their horns like antlers. They grow a single set of horns that lean slightly backward.
Meet the roan antelope
Here at SafarisAfricana, you can read such amazing facts about Safari Animals.
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