Roan Antelope

Roan Antelope



COMMON NAME: roan antelope
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Bovidae
GENUS SPECIES: Hippotragus (goat-like horse) equinus (a horse)


DESCRIPTION: One of the largest African antelopes, the roan antelope has a gray coat with black and white facial markings, very long, pointed ears that are tufted at tip, and long horns that are strongly curved backwards.
FEMALE The female is similar to the male, but with smaller, less heavily ridged horns.
MALE Shoulder height to about 1.4 m (4.62 ft.)
FEMALE Shoulder height to about 1.3 m (4.29 ft.)
WEIGHT: Approximately 270 kg (594 lb.)
DIET: Grazers - includes desert succulents, grasses, herbs, and leaves of small bushes
GESTATION: Gestation lasts approximately 9 months
SEXUAL MATURITY: 2.5-3 years
LIFE SPAN: Up to 18 years
RANGE: Central Africa
HABITAT: Inhabits lightly wooded savanna and tall grass
STATUS: IUCN Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. Roans congregate in herds of up to 20 individuals with a very characteristic social structure. Within the group, the more dominant female is the leader. There is only one adult male (called a bull) in each herd. The juvenile males are exiled from the herd at about 3 years old.
2. All the female calves remain. When the herd gets too large, it divides into smaller groups of cows and their young. These groups will form new herds, once again with only one adult bull.
3. The young males, which have been separated from the herd, associate in "bachelor groups" of up to 12 individuals. Among the bachelors, the most dominant will be the first individual to join a new group of females when the position is open. Very seldom, during their fights for supremacy, they are able to inflict bodily harm to the contender.
4. 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.
5. Roan vocalization is an unusual whistle. Three basic sounds having been recorded: a high-pitched squeal signifying anger, an equine snort for alarm, and a low hissing sound when wounded.


Related to the Blaaubok, an extinct southern African antelope, the future looks good for the roan, despite declining numbers. 

These antelope have been hunted for their meat and skin. Despite their effectiveness, the roan's horns have contributed to the sharp decline of the animal, being a highly prized hunting trophy. In addition to heavy hunting, numbers have been reduced severely as part of regional Tse-tse fly control programs.

Their grassland habitat is being reduced due to habitat destruction for agricultural development. Antelope are important to their habitats as grazers and browsers. They are also important as prey for carnivores.


Nowak, R. M. Walker's Mammals of the World, Fifth Ed. Vol. II, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Parker, S. P. Grzimek's Encyclopedia: Mammals. Vol. 5, New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1990.

Spinage, C.A. The Natural History of Antelope. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1986.

Marwell Zoological Park.