Like a buck to water…
Do you know who these waterside waders are? The name is a bit of a giveaway… they are waterbuck!
Waterbuck always live close to water and are often found in reed beds and on floodplains; they are dependent on water and need to drink every day. They are herbivores that graze on grass and will also wade shoulder-deep into the water to eat roots and water plants.
One of the waterbuck’s defining features is the white circle on its behind. African folklore says that on a dark night, a waterbuck mother and her calf were grazing near a freshly-painted tribesman’s hut. He had left a tin of paint outside ready to continue his work in the morning. The baby waterbuck accidentally knocked over the tin of paint, waking the tribesman.
Seeing with dismay that all his white paint had split on the ground, he gave chase and threw the empty tin of paint at the waterbuck. The tin landed right on the mother’s hindquarters, leaving a large round white mark on her bottom. Rather than being upset, she was very pleased, as the white mark stood out and helped her calf follow her more easily at night.
Indeed, the waterbuck’s painted behinds help members of their group to follow each other and stay together.
Waterbuck are gregarious animals, forming herds of up to 20 animals, usually with a territorial, dominant bull, cows and young calves. Young bulls are kicked out of the herd when they are about a year old, forming bachelor herds with other young bulls.
The waterbuck frolicking in the dam at Nambiti in these pictures are young bulls, as female waterbuck don’t have horns. Females are also smaller, weighing between 210 to 240 kg; whereas males weigh between 250-270 kg.
Another prominent feature of the waterbuck is its strong scent glands that produce a turpentine-like scent.
Next time you’re at Nambiti, keep an eye out for that distinctively painted rump near a popular watering hole – or right in one!