Intro to the Red Lechwe
A long-bodied, medium-size antelope, with hindquarters taller than forequarters. Hooves are elongated and splayed that aid in aquatic habitats (see Behavior). Coat is long, coarse and bright chestnut in color that has a greasy texture. Male coat darkens with age. A dark stripe runs along the front side of each foreleg. Underparts, neck, chin and lips are white. Underside of round, black-tipped tail is also white. Have spiraled, lyre-shaped horns that grow back and turn upward with spreads that can vary. Horn lengths range from 18" to 37". Male weights range from 185 to 290 lbs. (average 230), while female weights will be between 130 and 220 lbs.
Red Lechwe behavior
Red lechwe are well adapted to a semi-aquatic life. Females and young are generally found in wetter areas, while solitary and bachelor group males tend to inhabit drier zones. All lechwe prefer to graze on the periphery of a floodplain or water body. Good swimmers that are most comfortable in shallow water. Wade and feed in water up to shoulder height, but prefer water 2 to 8" in depth. Can often be observed dunking heads underwater to retrieve aquatic plants. Vastly considered a slow and clumsy runner on land, lechwe often evade predation by scattering when the y flee and escaping to water. Use powerful hindlegs and specialized hooves to leap and propel them quickly across bodies of water, avoiding sinking in muddy bottoms. Do not follow a strict social system, though males do keep non-overlapping territories.
Red Lechwe food and eating habits
Prefer grasses, water plants, green leaves, and the buds of flowers and fruits.
Red Lechwe breeding
Males mature at 2.5 yrs (compete for breeding by 7) and females reach maturity at 1.5 yrs. Mating season territories are usually patches of higher ground. Timing of the rut varies (November to February in wild) and last 2.5 months. Female gestation is 7.5 months and give birth to 1 young.
Red Lechwe average life span
Generally live 10 to 15 years
Keeping Red Lechwe
Vulnerable to predation on dry land with little water for escape (especially young). Feeding exclusively on dry-land grasses can lead to poor body condition. Cross with Kafue lechwe and Nile lechwe. Lechwe tend to leap over obstacles, so 8 to 10 ft. fencing is usually necessary.