Roan Antelope

(Hippotragus equinus)




Facts about this animal

Among the antelopes, the Roan is second in size only to the eland (Taurotragus spp.). Its head-body length is 190-240 cm and the body weight ranges from 250-270 kg. The build is horse-like and the horns, present in both sexes, are curved backwards, heavily ringed at the base and relatively short for the size of the animal (shorter than 1m). The coat colour is dark rufous to light reddish fawn with white underparts. They have a dark head with a broad pure white stripe extending from near the base of the horns in front of the eyes to the cheek and a less conspicuous whitish area behind the eyes. The muzzle is also white. The ears are long, narrow (donkey-like) pointed with dark brown tassels at the tip. They posses a well developed, coarse and stiff mane. Females are similar to males but slightly smaller in size and with smaller and less heavily ridged horns.

Roan antelopes characteristically associate in breeding herds of about six to 15 individuals. Occasionally the herds may be larger. They include an adult bull, cows and their offspring. Young bulls are tolerated in the herd up to an age of two years. The herd bull is territorial and defends the herd’s home range against neighbouring bulls. Surplus bulls will form bachelor herds.

Roan are grazers and by preference do not feed lower than approximately 15 cm from the ground. They consequently avoid areas with high concentrations of short grass grazers, e.g. impala, wildebeest and zebra.

Did you know?
that roan antelope are brave animals? If threatened by a predator, including lions, they will confront it, using their scimitar-shaped horns. Many of these big cats have died during such fights.


Name (Scientific) Hippotragus equinus
Name (English) Roan Antelope
Name (French) Antilope chevaline
Name (German) Pferdeantilope
Name (Spanish) Antilope ruano
Local names Afrikaans: Bastergemsbokchi
Shona: Ndunguza
isiNdebele, isiZulu, siSwati: Inoni
seTswana: Kwalata
sePedi: Thaetsi, thagetsise
seSotho: Kgama, tshephe, letsa
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Martin Wegmann



Range Africa
Habitat Open grass and woodlands in the vicinity of water
Wild population 76.000 (1999) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 202 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Roan Antelope


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): Adult roan antelope are particularly difficult to transport and should preferably be totally immobilized or anaesthetized for the duration of the journey. A family group can be transported under tranquillization after a few weeks of adaptation in a boma. The horns of the adults should be piped. Transport adult roan antelope in individual crates. The crates should be placed transversely on the transport vehicle, so that the heads of the animals face outwards. The roof of the crate should be of height sufficient to be clear of the height of the piped horns.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Dave Pape

Why do zoos keep this animal

While listed in the "lower risk" category by IUCN, roan antelope populations have collapsed in parts of their range, whereby the reasons are not always well understood. Zoos therefore aim at maintaining selfsustaining ex situ populations and run coordinated breeding programmes in three regions. Zoo bred-animals have already been reintroduced to Swaziland where the species became extinct, due to poaching, in 1961.