The Roan Antelope is a large, powerfully built, horse-like antelope with an overall reddish brown body colour (like a Gemsbok), with the lower parts of the legs darker and the belly lighter. The striking black and white facial markings are characteristic of this species, but sometimes leads to confusion with Sable Antelope. Both sexes have heavily ringed scimitar-shaped horns that can reach a metre in length. Bulls can weigh up to 320 kg (710 lbs) and can sometimes measure 160 cm (63 in) at the shoulder, with the females somewhat smaller. Both sexes have long tails tipped with a black tuft.
They mostly inhabit lightly wooded grassland savannah, open areas of medium sized grass, with easy access to surface water, as they must drink regularly. Roan are primarily grazers, preferring to crop the top portions of grasses, but will occasionally feed on shrubs, herbs and acacia tree pods.
These antelopes are semi-gregarious with the females and the young forming the main herd, or harem. There is usually only one bull in each herd and young bachelors form separate groups. In each herd there is a hierarchy, the dominant female in the herd playing the role of matriarch. When two adult males encounter each other, it is common for them to fight for dominance of their herd. They brandish their horns, run forward, and drop to their knees while clashing their large horns together.
The Roan Antelope formerly occurred very widely in the savannah woodlands and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, but has been eliminated from large parts of its former range due to habitat loss due to human activity. Hunting outside of protected areas has also led to a decline in the population of this impressive antelope, with current estimates putting the total population at only about 50,000 to 75,000 individuals. The best places to see this beautiful antelope include Chobe in Botswana, Kafue and South Luangwa in Zambia, Nyika in Malawi and Hwange in Zimbabwe.
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