The mountain reedbuck is a seldom spotted medium-sized antelope than enjoys alpine areas.
Mountain Reedbucks are leanly built antelope. Their fur coat ranges from a dark brown color to a lighter, almost ginger color. Their horns aren’t as large as their more common relatives, growing to be an estimated 35cm (14 inches) in length, and aren’t angled out as much, but still curve forward slightly. They are also considerably smaller in body size when compared to the Common Reedbucks, averaging at around 30kg (66lb) among both sexes and possessing a shoulder height of up to 75cm. These characteristics have helped them to adapt to the more mountainous environments they live in, making them more agile and quick, helping them to climb better and faster.
Mountain Reedbucks aren’t particularly widely spread animals and have but 3 separated populations, quite some distance apart. The one, in South Africa, from parts of the Eastern Cape where the Southern Drakensberg Mountain range starts, all along the mountain range towards Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces respectively where the mountain range merges with the Northern Drakensberg Mountains. Lesotho, found in the mainland of South Africa, also has a few substantial populations. Their next population is situated far north from there, in parts of Kenya and Ethiopia. There they roam the high and sometimes oxygen depleted mountains sometimes referred to as the roof of Africa. Finally there is a very small population of Western Mountain Reedbuck found only within the highland areas of Cameroon.
The Mountain Reedbuck is considered as of least concern across the species as a whole, but different sub-species are a different story. The Southern Mountain Reedbuck is the sub-species locally found within the Kruger National Park and is the most common of the 3 sub-species of Mountain Reedbuck by quite some distance, with a population total of well over 33 000 individuals. The other 2 sub-species are however more rare, with the vulnerable Chandler’s Mountain Reedbuck having around 2 900 members left and the endangered Western Mountain Reedbuck with only 450 individuals left in the wilderness of Africa. This is the case with many species; as whole the species is in no danger but the diversity of the species is secretly under threat.
Mountain Reedbucks can be found on the edge of the plateau in rocky areas, usually within large mountain ranges like the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa and the highlands of Ethiopia. The altitudes at which they occur are generally between 1500 meters and 5000 meters above sea level, where there is a steady food supply in the form of highland grasslands which can provide them with enough grass to feed on. A steady water supply is a very important part of the habitats in which they can be found, because of their water dependence due to their predominantly grazer’s diet.
Mountain Reedbuck are usually organized into herds of up to 14 animals, but 4 to 5 members on average. One male governs the herd and a few females with the young they gave birth to live with him, under his protection, but also under his control. A herd such as this has a home range, but whether or not they are territorial is not known. Males and Females may also be seen living alone, solitarily, although it is quite rare for a male and very rare for a female. Males that do not have a herd and aren’t yet able to compete for one usually live with other males like them in a bachelor herd rather than living in isolation, more vulnerable and less protected.
Mountain Reedbucks and also some Common Reedbuck are very visual when it comes to advertising territory, despite the laid back approach the remainder of the Common Reedbuck population sometimes takes when addressing trespassers within their territory. They erect their posture proudly and snort heavily through their nostrils when a neighbor or wonderer is sighted, and may even make shrill sounds as their whole body shakes egotistically. These same displays may be motivated by obtaining more mates, and may also be recycled during the mating season for the same purpose. Whistling sounds typically accompany these movements, some 1 to 3 whistles at a time.
As always the when, where and how of mating and courtship is decided by the female members of a pair, and for most Mountain Reedbuck the sexual maturity age of 1 year among females kicks off the mating season for newly adult pairs to produce young of their own. Once the young ones are born a mother typically hides and protects them in thicker and denser vegetation areas to boost their survival rate, nourish them properly and keep them out of the harmful path of predators such as Eagles, cats and snakes while they are at their weakest and most vulnerable.
Their reaction in situations with predators is almost precisely the same as that of the Common Reedbuck, with one distinct difference. That difference mentioned is that instead of snorting while running, they continue to whistle for some reason. The challenge is also presumably greater for these animals when running, mainly due to the uneven terrain they surround themselves with and the many tripping hazards rocks and things can cause. Needless to say they are even more alert than Common Reedbuck and have a greater challenge with leopards stalking them with their famous ‘leopard crawl’ in near silence.
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