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Social Relationships

The importance of proximity to water plays an important role in the social behavior of waterbucks. Not only do they need the water for drinking, but they also use water to fend off predators, for they are good swimmers. Competition to be near water is reflected among male relationships. Male waterbucks are territorial, but they will tolerate several other males within their territory. These so-called satellite bulls are submissive to the dominant male and will help him defend their territory from other males.

Females have loose, come-and-go relationships, congregating in female herds with as many as 70 animals, including dependent young waterbucks. Female herds may have a home range as large as 1500 acres (608 hectares), while bachelor groups have a range of 250 acres (101 hectares). Young males form bachelor herds of five to 40 young bulls and there is evidence of a hierarchy among them. These are also loose social groups with members coming and going. Young males join these groups at the age of nine months until they are six years old, their age of maturity.

Female waterbucks conceive after the age of three, reproducing about once a year after an eight-month gestation period. The mother stays with her calf at night, but during the day wanders away from her young. The calf is nursed three times a day for the first two to four weeks and the calf is weaned at six to eight months. Mothers with young offspring tend to remain in woodland areas as a protection from predators.



Estes, Richard D. Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Berkeley: University of California, 1991.

Estes, Richard D. The Safari Companion. Post Mills, Vermont: Chelsea Green, 1993.

Grmzimek, Bernhard. Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.

Haltenorth, T., and H. Diller. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa. London: Collins, 1992.

MacDonald, David, and Sasha Norris, eds. Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File, 2001.

Nowak, R.M., ed. Walker's Mammals of the World. 5th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Vita Richman


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—The overall color of an animal, plus distinctive color markings on various parts of the body.


—A large group of animals classified together because they share common characteristics of physical structure and consequent behavior.


—An animal that only eats plant foods.

Hybrid animals

—Animals that are crosses between species or subspecies that have already been classified.


—The casting up of food that has only been partly digested in a stomach chamber of cud-chewing animals.

Satellite bulls

—Submissive bulls that the dominant bull tolerates within his territory and that help defend it from other intruders.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Verbena Family (Verbenaceae) - Tropical Hardwoods In The Verbena Family to WelfarismWaterbuck - Description, Habitat And Population, Social Relationships