Scientific Name:
Kobus ellipsiprymnus ellipsiprymnus

Conservation Status:


Where to see them:
African Plains

Fun Facts:

  • Waterbucks secrete an odor that tends to discourage predators.
  • Waterbucks are so named because they inhabit areas near water. Waterbucks prefer these areas because of the constant food supply, and they can go into the water to escape pursuing land predators.
  • Waterbuck males have ringed horns that can grow up to three feet long!


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Males and females are similar in size. Height is 4 to 5 feet; weight is 300 to 500 pounds. Males are easily identified by their long, ringed and pointed horns.

Southeastern Africa

Savanna grasslands and forest areas with rivers

Waterbucks are territorial animals and do not usually migrate. Females form loose herds where the home range of a female or small group of females will overlap with the home ranges of several other females. Young male waterbucks form bachelor herds. As the males mature, they create their own large territories, which overlap with those of many females. Waterbucks are active and tend to feed more in the morning and at night. The remaining hours are spent resting and ruminating.
Waterbucks are grazers, feeding mainly on coarse grasses and occasionally leaves from shrubs and trees.

Life Cycle
Waterbuck females give birth to one calf per year. For the first three weeks, the mother will hide the calf to protect it from predators. The mother will return three to five times per day to nurse and groom the calf. Grooming helps to prevent odors that could attract predators to the calf. Calves are weaned at 6 to 8 months old. Soon after weaning, the males will leave their mothers to form small bachelor groups, whereas females will remain with their mother or near the mother’s home range. Waterbucks mature at 3.5 years of age and can live up to 18 years.

Some of My Neighbors (IN THE WILD)
Lions, leopards, crocodiles, giraffe, elephants, hammerkops, ground hornbills, white rhinos and zebra

Population Status & Threats
Waterbucks are common but threatened by hunting and habitat loss. They also compete with cattle for grazing areas.

Zoo Atlanta Conservation Efforts

Zoo Atlanta participates in a captive population management plan that selectively breeds individuals for breeding and exhibition at accredited zoos around the country. Several other Zoo Atlanta-supported programs (e.g., Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, elephant Conservation Endowment Fund awards, and rhino Conservation Endowment Fund awards) provide umbrella protection for the waterbuck in the form of education, anti-poaching patrol and habitat conservation.