NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The rarest reedbuck

Their fawn light-brown colour helps them to blend into the surroundings

In Summary

• There are possibly only about 25 Chanler's mountain reedbuck in the park

Chanler's mountain reedbuck
Chanler's mountain reedbuck
Image: GARETH JONES

One fine late afternoon, I decided to drive down to the Athi Basin. As I drove, it was evident some parts of the park were looking very green after much good rain during the previous months.

As we turned a corner in an area with rocky outcrops, an entire family group of seven Chanler's mountain reedbuck were positioned near the road. Fascinated with the opportunity to watch them closely, I parked the vehicle.

Their behaviour is markedly different from other antelope species. There is always a constant watch while the others feed, and then if there is a possible danger, they suddenly all freeze and stand motionless like statues for some time.

From a distance, their fawn light-brown colour helps them to blend into the surroundings. The females do not have horns, while the male has short, sharp, forward-curving horns. When threatened with danger, such as predators, they give repetitive alarm whistles to warn others as they run away to safety.

There are three recognised species of reedbuck in Africa, namely southern, bohor, and mountain reedbuck. The bohor reedbuck (sub-species Redunca redunca Wardi) and the Mountain Reedbuck (sub-species Redunca fulvorufula Chanler) are found in the Nairobi National Park.

While the other reedbuck species are heavily dependant on marshy water areas, the mountain reedbuck can live with less water. They are rarely seen by most visitors as they live in only a few select rocky locations. It is estimated that there are possibly only about 25 Chanler's mountain reedbuck in the park.

When visiting the Nairobi park, it is always best to drive slowly, especially in the hilly rocky areas. You might just be blessed and possibly see some Chanler's mountain reedbuck.