Botswana is home to one of the most unique species of antelope found on the African landscape, the Red Lechwe, one of the only two places where the rare type of buck is found. In the Okavango Delta, these reddish, stout little bucks are often seen frolicking through the marshes in great numbers and have cleverly adapted to their watery homes with special long splayed, hooves and oily, water-repelling hind legs. In fact, they move faster and more agilely through water than on the solid ground and will sprint off to deeper water when threatened.
Herds can reach numbers into the hundreds, creating beautiful imagery of soft sandy and sienna furry creatures against the green grass and blue skies of Botswana. They are very territorial and the male bucks defend their territory fiercely. The herds will follow the floodwaters of the delta, making their home just on the edge. At night they rest in separate groups on the water’s edge, to be less of a target for predators. Their main predators in the Delta are lion, hyena and wild dogs.
Unlike most buck, the newborns are not able to walk immediately but require some time to lie hidden in the reeds for a few weeks. Lechwe gives birth to one calf at a time and their mothers will leave them alone to graze for food, returning twice a day for feeding. Unfortunately, this makes the calves easy prey and as many as 50% won’t make it past those first few weeks of life.
The semiaquatic antelope are most active in the early morning, just before sunrise and in the late afternoon, preferring to rest during the heat of the day. They feed on the lush green aquatic and semi-aquatic grasses of the marshes.
All this and more make the Red Lechwe a truly unique buck of Botswana.