Sitatunga | Botswana Wildlife Guide

Sitatunga. Michael English

Sitatunga [Tragelaphus spekei]

Best places to see Sitatunga in Botswana

These semi-aquatic antelopes are widespread in Botswana but are most common in the permanent waters of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Observations

A water adapted species the sitatunga is the most elusive antelope to spot on a Botswana safari. Keeping to the thickets in the permanent delta areas the sitatunga is able to negotiate the papyrus beds with ease.

It is however not uncommon to spot the sitatunga in the open as they often move out into the shallows to feed. In areas of the panhandle Sitatunga are often seen grazing in the shallows near the edge of the mainland.

Predators and Hunting Sitatunga

The mother will leave her young hidden while she moves out to feed for longer periods than other antelope. This is probably due to the fact that predation is at a minimum in the areas where the sititunga leave their young - due to the water and thick reed and papyrus vegetation.

Sitatunga have the safety of the water to head to when they are hunted but despite this they are still preyed on by lions, leopards and wild dogs. The sitatunga will move into deeper water at the first sign of danger. Being good swimmers they can move underwater with only their nostrils showing.

Personal observations of a lion hunting a lone Sitatunga in the Okavango Delta showed the antelope heading into the safety of a papyrus bed when the lion followed it into the water. Predators of the Okavango have adapted to the delta conditions and will often hunt animals in the water.

Spread Across Africa

From West Africa to Sudan and into Zambia and Botswana the sitatunga is widespread across the African continent. However it only occurs in areas of swamp and marshland. Botswana's Okavango Delta is the southern-most range in Africa.

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