Fun Sitatunga Facts For Kids

Georgia Stone
Aug 31, 2023 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Oct 26, 2021
Sitatunga facts are going to captivate both children and parents alike!

The swamp-dwelling sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a semi-aquatic antelope species that is also called a marshbuck. Its elusive nature makes it a rare occurrence in the grasslands of African countries.

The animals are crepuscular which means these antelopes are most active during dusk and dawn, but they can sometimes be seen during the night as well when they try to escape from predators like leopards.

They have various features to suit the swampy habitat such as splayed hooves for treading on soft grounds and their coat has waterproofing oil. It is a dimorphic species where the size and color vary with sex.

Horns are present only in the males while the females have no horns. The female has white stripes on their body that are lacking in the male.

The maximum population of these animals is found near swamps with dense vegetation cover.

The feeding habits of the sitatunga include grasses and leaves of bushes found near a swamp. Although the sitatunga is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, hunting the animal for its meat and coat has reduced the population to some degree.

If you like what you read, why not check out royal antelope facts and spiral-horned antelope facts.

Sitatunga Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a sitatunga?

The sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a species of antelope.

What class of animal does a sitatunga belong to?

The sitatunga belongs to class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, and the family Bovidae.

How many sitatungas are there in the world?

The estimated population of sitatunga in Africa is around 170,000. It is not found outside the African continent.

Where does a sitatunga live?

You will find populations of the sitatunga throughout central Africa. Their habitat can be found both in protected areas and in the wild jungles of Africa.

Although rare, you might spot some of them in West Africa as well in places like Guinea, Gambia, and Senegal. The larger habitats of the antelopes are found in the Congo Basin region, southern Ghana, and the marshy savannas of central Africa.

Their range is widespread in Ethiopia, Botswana, and Namibia. The area around Lake Victoria has quite a large population of the sitatunga.

What is a sitatunga's habitat?

The sitatunga is a swamp-dwelling antelope species that inhabits muddy swamps and marshes which have dense vegetation cover. These antelopes are found to occupy the deepest areas of a swamp as they are a semi-aquatic species.

It has been observed that sitatungas create paths through papyrus and tall reeds and form vegetation platforms by trampling and circling the grass repeatedly.

The species is known for its swimming abilities as people have seen them swim for many miles. If the animal feels threatened, it can submerge its body in the water exposing only the nose above the water surface.

Who do sitatungas live with?

The males are solitary animals as adults but might form small groups while they are young. The females always stay in a herd. 

How long does a sitatunga live?

The sitatunga has been observed to live for as long as 22 years in captivity while their longevity in the wild is about 10 to 15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Although they remain separate, the males and females come together during breeding to form a mating fair. The breeding takes place all year round. The average gestation period is about 247 days.

The males attain sexual maturity in one year while the females in two years. The birth of a sitatunga calf takes place on dry land in the swamp in a part where the vegetation is trampled down.

The mother visits the calf for suckling while the latter remains on the trampled mat. On average, the females give birth to a single calf at a time. After being nursed for about six months, the young sitatunga goes apart from its mother.

What is their conservation status?

As per the reports of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the sitatunga is a species of Least Concern with a decreasing population trend. But the development of swamp regions by humans outside the protected areas has led to habitat loss of these animals.

The loss of water has reduced the food source in these regions. Excessive hunting has also reduced the populations in some places of Africa.

Sitatunga Fun Facts

What do sitatungas look like?

The sitatunga can be distinguished by the presence of long, splayed hooves on their legs that help them to walk in muddy swamp regions. They have waterproofing oil on the coat to adapt to the aquatic habitat.

The females have a chocolate brown colored coat and their counterpart is of a grayish-brown color. The presence of vertical white stripes on the females makes them different.

On the other hand, the males possess horns that are long and twisted which are absent in the feminine gender. The young calves have a bright red color and are wooly coated with stripes and spots on their bodies.

How cute are they?

The calves of the sitatunga antelope have brightly red-colored fur on their bodies which gives it a cute look.

How do they communicate?

A single high-pitched bark can be heard from a female sitatunga. The male is heard barking at night to announce their location or alert other members about the possible presence of a predator. You may hear a suppressed roar from the male when it follows a female for mating purposes.

How big is a sitatunga?

When it comes to the sitatunga, the males are larger than the females. While the females can grow to lengths of 61 in (155 cm) and a height of 35.43 in (90 cm), the males can be 67 in (170 cm) long and 39.37 in (100 cm) tall.

The spiral-horned antelope on the other hand can be as tall as 7.8 ft (2.3 m).

How fast can a sitatunga run?

Sitatungas are clumsy runners on land and hide in the water from predators. They are very good swimmers and can swim for several miles. The splayed hooves help them to sprint in soft grounds near marshy swamps full of vegetation.

How much does a sitatunga weigh?

The males weigh as much as 275 lb (124.7 kg) whereas the weight of females is around 126 lb (57 kg). They are heavier than fallow deer whose maximum weight is 205 lb (92.9 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The females and the males have no sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby sitatunga?

Baby sitatungas are called calves. Sitatunga calves leave their mothers at an earlier age than other antelopes.

What do they eat?

The diet of the sitatunga consists of grass in the swamps where they reside. They also take in sedges and bush leaves for food. People have seen the sitatungas feeding on fallen fruit and the bark of trees. Tall reeds are favored as food among submerged sitatungas. Africa’s wild predators like leopards and lions prey on these animals.

Are they dangerous?

No, you would not associate the word danger with the sitatunga.

Would they make a good pet?

Although some groups of this antelope species are reared in captivity, the sitatunga is a wild African antelope not suited to being a pet.

Did you know...

The loud barking sound by the male sitatunga alerts other animals that predators are lurking.

Young calves are expected to fend for themselves after only six months of being born.

Is the sitatunga endangered?

Although the sitatunga is not endangered, severe loss of habitats and excessive hunting have reduced the populations of this semi-aquatic antelope.

Is the sitatunga endemic?

Africa's sitatunga antelope is endemic to the continent and found in swampy habitats.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these saiga antelope facts and Mexican wolf facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable gazelle coloring pages.

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

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Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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