The Bushbuck is the smallest member of the spiral horned antelope. He is of medium size, dark reddish-brown with white spots on the rump, against the legs, at the base of the neck, and just below the throat. He is also very difficult to spot while on safari as usually most active during early morning and part of the night. Bushbucks become almost entirely nocturnal in areas where they are apt to be disturbed frequently during the day. When alarmed, individuals react in a variety of ways. Sometimes they will sink to the ground and lie flat making them difficult to see, or they may bound away, making a series of hoarse dog like barks and disappearing into the bush and out of sight.
They are predated on by the usual culprits, lion, hyena and leopard but they must be wary hunting this little guy as he can be quite dangerous. A wounded or cornered Bushbuck is apt to be very aggressive and will not hesitate to charge anything thus making him quite an adversary to any predator. This aggression combined with sharp horns has made them one of the only antelope to be considered a threat and there are records of both man and leopard that was killed by this sly and brave little fighter. Bet you weren’t expecting that!
For the most part solitary, they prefer riverine forest and dense thickets always near a water source as they must drink daily. Primarily a browser (feeds on leaves and shoots as opposed to a grazer who feeds on grass), he feeds during the night or early morning and late afternoon on leaves, branches, flowers and fruit. Weighing in at between 80 to 140 pounds, only the males carry horns and mature bucks are considerably larger and usually darker in colour than the female of the species. When spooked, his alarm signal is a loud, hoarse, dog-like bark.
Bad and badder (two dangerous antelope from Africa)
There is nothing to fear from these if encountered on a game walk or around your lodge as they don’t hunt like the tiny Duiker (see previous article) and when given the option of “fight or flight” they will inevitably take the flight option but again having this snippet of information could make spotting one of these a highlight of your game drive and you can amaze your fellow safari guests and even the ranger with your knowledge of the bush.