Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Roan Antelope- Smart but not that smart...
Roan antelope are a specialist species that are highly selective feeders. For this exact reason the roan has never been an abundant species, even though their numbers are today greatly reduced due to poaching and habitat degradation. They are generally not seen in large numbers anywhere and in fact are declining in many parts of their former wide range as a result of increased competition from other antelope species that are not as selective when it comes to feeding, and a variety of other factors.
Two exceptions to this are the Busanga Plains in Zambia's Kafue National Park and the plateau of the Nyika National Park in northern Malawi.
Some visitors to the Nyika plateau where we offer some guided safaris. Observed what was either smart feeding or a moment of experimentation?
When a small herd was seen feeding close to camp. Two of the cows in the herd waded into the water of a dam and one of the animals actually lowered its head and the bulk of its neck under the water until even the horns were almost completely submerged!
After a few seconds the cow emerged from the water and then jumped out onto the adjacent bank before wandering away with the herd. I guess that she had been attempting to get at some underwater vegetation to eat. The Roan only tried once and having got a nose full of water,looking bedraggled and rather forlorn with her long Eeyore-like ears they herd ambled off for a more conventional feed.