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Jackson’s Hartebeest

Jacksoni Alcelaphus buselaphus

Head and body measurements: 160-215cm

Height range: 107-150cm

Female: 116-185kg, male: 125-218kg

Description: It resembles a monster from the Chronicles of Narnia. Light brown body with an upslope, curving horns on hollow bases (pedicels) on both sexes, and an extended forehead. It is related to the wildebeest.

Breeding occurs nearly entirely in Uganda around May, at the conclusion of the rainy season. In some locations, it may last the entire year. After an 8-month gestation period, a single child is born. Nutrition affects growth rates. Some people reach sexual maturity at one year, while others take up to four years.

Where to seek for them: This is Uganda’s sole national park where you may observe Jackson’s hartebeest (Kidepo). Frequently intermingled with female waterbuck herds. Most commonly found in the transition zones (ecotones) between woods and savannah.

Conservation Status: The meat appears to be quite good, and the animal is rather easy to hunt. Competition from cattle is another issue. Although not currently endangered, one subspecies has been extinct, and many more are in decline.

Life expectancy: up to 19 years

More information
Grassland savannah in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly along the boundary between open grassland plains and parks, forest, or scrub). During the dry season, they may be found near drainage lines for water, and during the rainy season, they can be found in higher, thinly-grassed forests (Kingdon, p. 429).

Preference for regions with short grass (Estes, p. 134)

Territories typically comprise at least two plant communities as well as access to water (but not too near) (Estes, p. 140)

Female herds will have a home range of 3.7-5.5 square kilometers, which may cover 20-30 territories. They will stay anywhere from a few hours to several weeks in any one region (Estes, p. 139)

Food/Water
  • Eat practically all grasses and grass components. Cyndon grass, which is consumed by many other herbivores, is one that is avoided. Broad-leaf foliage makes up less than 5% of the diet (Kingdon, p. 429).
  • When water is available, it will drink often, but it may survive for long periods by drawing moisture from shrubs, succulents, and melons (Walker, p. 180)
  • Jackson’s HartebeestWhistling thorn is associated with red-oat grass (Themeda triandra) and scrub acacia (Estes, p. 139)
  • Breeding occurs nearly entirely in Uganda around May, at the conclusion of the rainy season. In some locations, it may last the entire year (Kingdon, p. 430)
  • After an 8-month gestation period, a single child is born. Nutrition affects growth rates. Some people reach sexual maturity at one year, while others take up to four years (Kingdon, p. 430)
  • Females are social and roam about in quest of nice grass.
  • Males are territorial, especially during breeding, and use dung and urine to indicate territory borders. Territories are normally made up of all the plant zones along a slope, and adjoining territories will contribute pressure from the sides, rather than from above or below (Kingdon, p. 430)
  • It is occasionally seen in huge, dense herds. Populations flourish and collapse in response to drought and cattle competition (Kingdon, p. 430)
  • They are generally “sedentary-dispersed,” which means they are non-migratory and do not normally congregate, however hundreds of groups have been reported in the past (Estes, p. 139)
  • Female hierarchical herds will travel through multiple males’ territory. Males and females remain apart within a territory until when actively courting or mating (mean distance 86m compared to 6m between females) (Estes, p. 139)
  • Males frequently stay with their mothers for up to 2 12 years until maturing at 3-4 years. They are tolerated by dominant males because to the appeasement ritual (head tucked in, horns parallel to ground) and the mother’s protectiveness, who may depart if the son is driven away (Estes, p. 139)
  • Males will create all-male herds of up to 35, perhaps more, near drinking holes during the dry season after leaving the natal herd.
  • If a bull obtains high status in the bachelor herd, he will attempt to establish his own area around the age of 3-4 years (Estes, p. 140)
  • Dispossessed bulls frequently strive to reclaim their area, and prime territories are handed on unmodified. Low-value regions are seldom disputed and may even remain vacant if abandoned (Estes, p. 140)
  • Males posture with their heads up and their legs back (occasionally while defecating) to advertise their willingness to mate, attract females, and dissuade other males from approaching (Kingdon, p. 430)
  • “Challenge Ritual” – One guy urinates as another “incisor-grooms” his side (displacement grooming). Estés (p. 135)
  • Activity Patterns: These have not been well researched. One herd in Congo was seen resting for an average of 4 hours and 25 minutes each day, spaced out among 2-3 resting bouts between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sleep came in a few minutes at a time, with the chin resting on the ground. Male spends little time lying down, preferring to make his presence known by standing on a termite mound (Estes, p.140)
  • Life expectancy: up to 19 years (Kingdon, p. 430)
  • Droppings, about 1cm long, are frequently observed under acacia trees, which provide shade during the day (Walker, p. 180)11 – 12 cm long track (Walker, p. 180)
  • Predators include lions, leopards, and wild dogs (Walker, p. 180)
References
  1. Estes is a reference (1991). The African Mammal Behavior Guide. The University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  2. Kingdon (1997). The African Mammal Field Guide by Kingdon. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
  3. Walker (1996). Signs of the Wild: A Field Guide to the Spoor and Signs of Southern African Mammals. Fifth Edition. Struik Publishers Ltd. is based in Cape Town, South Africa.
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