One of the most characteristic images of the plains of Africa is that of the tsessebe and topi standing on a termite mound vantage point. Once thought to be a show of dominance this pose is now known to be more of habit than any show of domination.
The tsessebe and topi of East Africa are subspecies that could interbreed if they occurred over the same range. There is a slight variation in horn structure and coat shade, and the herd structures of female tsessbes are smaller than those of the topi.
Tsessebe have pre-orbital glands which they rub on grass stems which leaves an advertorial secretion. They will also rub their faces and horns in mud. It is thought that this is to make their horns look bigger but as the females also do it the theory is not accepted by everyone.
The tsessebe are grazers and prefer feeding on new shoots. They are known to be the first animals to arrive on an area after a burn, where they feed on the new growth. The tsessebe are often found with other species such as zebra and wildebeest. There is generally not competition for food as all three species prefer different parts of the plants they feed on.
Considered by many to be one of the 'funniest looking' animals on the plains of Africa the tsessebe is nonetheless the fastest antelope. There is a traditional story which explains the less than glamorous look of the tsessebea and its speed.
At the time of creation the Creator was handing out the ornamentation for each animal and the tsessebe arrived late, at the time the Creator was packing up. Begging for a set of horns the tsessebe began to irritate the Creator who in turn picked up two sticks and stuck them on the tsessebes head and told him off.
When the other animals saw the tsessebe they began to laugh and tease to such an extent that the creator felt sorry for what he had done and offered tsessebe a wish. tsessebe asked to be the fastest antelope on the plains, and today the other animals do not tease him anymore.