INTIMATE ENCOUNTERS WITH ROAN ANTELOPE
Dr. Rupert Baber, December 2020
There are six species of horse antelopes (Hippotragini) worldwide, of which five live in Africa. We are very fortunate at Horizon South Africa to ride with two of these magnificent species, the tall powerfully built roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) and the very handsome sable antelope (Hippotragus niger). In both cases, the females rule the roost. Female and young roan typically live in stable herds of six to 35 animals, while sable herds are usually much larger, consisting of 30 to 75 females and young.
The roan have only recently been reintroduced to the reserve, so it was with great excitement that our ride went looking for them in their new home. After considerable tracking we came across a small herd grazing near open water. At first they seemed to take fright at their first encounter of horse and riders, but after entering a nearby tree line they relaxed and we were able to approach them with some ease. The most striking feature of these beautiful and rare animals is their painted faces and extremely long and curving ears. We shadowed them for a while, and were thrilled when a young female was overcome by curiosity and advanced towards the horses to have a closer look. This was one of those intimate encounters that is only possible from the back of a horse in the wide open African bush. We look forward to sharing this experience with many more guests in the future.