(Tragelaphus spekii)




Facts about this animal

The sitatunga is a medium-sized antelope with amphibious habits, spending most of its time in papyrus or reed beds and being an excellent swimmer. The hindquarters are higher than the forequarters, giving the animal a peculiar hunched appearance. The head-body length ranges from 115-175 cm, the height at shoulder from 75-125 cm. The ears are medium-sized, and there is a rather large naked rhinarium which is black in colour and almost circular in shape. The legs are long and slender. The pasterns are bare, resting on the ground and unusually flexible. The hooves are elongated and widely separated at the tips. The tail is short, about 20-35 cm long. It has a black tip and whitish hairs along the sides.

There is a marked sexual dimorphism . Males weigh 70-125 kg, females only about 35-57 kg. Only the males wear twisted horns which may reach a length of 50-92 cm.

The coat is very shaggy, greasy and fairly long, with an erectile dorsal crest running the length of the back. The colour is dull brown with faint white spots stripes in males, and reddish brown with marked spots and stripes in females. There is some variation in coat colour among populations or subspecies.

Breeding occurs throughout the year. After a gestation period of 7 months the female gives birth to usually one single calf, which weighs about 4 kg (3.5-4.9 kg) and which will double its weight within one month. Coat colour of calves is as in females. In male calves, the horns sprout at about 3-4 months. The calves are weaned at about 6 months, females become sexually mature at 1-2 years, males at 2-2.5 years.

Sitatungas are most active at dusk and dawn. Males usually live solitary, females may congregate to small groups. The diet consists of leaves, buds, shoots, fruit, reeds, and grasses.

Did you know?
that sitatungas normally sleep in the swamps on platforms of dry vegetation, which they trample and circle to condense? Each animal makes its own platform which may be used several times.


Name (Scientific) Tragelaphus spekii
Name (English) Sitatunga
Name (French) Guib d'eau, Sitatunga
Name (German) Sitatunga, Sumpfantilope
Name (Spanish) Sitatunga
Local names kiSwahili: Nzohe
CITES Status Appendix III (Danemark)
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Randomil Binek



Range Angola, Benin, northern Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Congo Dem, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana(?), Guinea (probably extinct), Guinea-Bissau (?),Ivory Coast (?), Kenya, Mozambique (Zambezi Delta), Namibia (Caprivi), Niger (extinct), , Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone (?), Sudan, Tanzania, Togo (probably extinct), Uganda, Zambia, extreme west of Zimbabwe.
Habitat Swamp forests and marshes, normally among boggy papyrus beds.
Wild population 17.000 (1999) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 486 animals reported to ISIS (2007), predominantly of the western subspecies (T. s. gratus.

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Requirement 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Road transport (according to the South African Standard SANS 10331): Transport cows and calves in mass crates. Tranquillize adults. Transport bulls separately in compartments in a mass crate under tranquillization. If crated individually, the crates should be placed transversely on the transport vehicle, so that the heads of the animals face outwards.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Damiano Luchetti

Why do zoos keep this animal

Sitatungas are the most aquatic of all antelopes and are, therefore, of great educational interest, in particular if a direct comparison with other Tragelaphus species, e.g. lesser kudu, which is adapted to dry thornbush, is possible

Being a fairly handsome species, they are also good ambassadors for African forest and wetland habitats.

With a view of maintaining a self-sustaining ex situ population, European zoos implement a coordinated breeding programme for the West African sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii gratus)