Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Kobus vardonii


Puku are a medium-sized antelope. The fur of puku is generally a golden yellow but may vary in coloration. This species has brown fur on the forehead and white fur near they eyes, belly, neck, and upper lip. Sexual dimorphism (difference between males and females) is present in this species. Male puku have lyre-shaped horns that are two thirds ridged and one third smooth near the tips. Female puku do not have horns and are generally smaller than males, females weight about 66 kg while males weigh about 77 kg.


Puku are found south of the Equator in Angola, Botswana, Katanga, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia. Smaller populations also exist in other countries. This species prefers grasslands, savannas, and river floodplains.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Puku are herbivores, consuming only vegetation, these animals tend to feed during the early morning and late in the afternoon. Puku prefer vegetation with high crude protein value such as perennial grasses. Perennial grasses are not eaten as much after these grasses have matured because the crude protein content is reduced.


This species breeds year round with a higher activity after the heavy rains of the wet season and also during May and September so that young are born during the wet season. Territorial males are polygynous, meaning they mate with multiple females. These females are herded into the territorial male’s territory and defended by the territorial male from other males by fighting with their horns. Females produce one offspring 8 months after mating. Females produce one offspring per breeding season. Most calves are born between January and April when more vegetation is available to support lactation by the mother and also to provide quality cover for young to hide from predators. Puku young are weaned after 6 months and reach sexual maturity after about a year.

Months and Times of Activity

Temperature and precipitation determine the activities of puku. During the wet seasons, puku migrate to higher elevations due to flooding. In dry seasons, puku populations reside near watercourses. Territorial males form herds of females within their territory while bachelor males form male-only herds. Females also form groups of 6-20 without a male present.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Territorial bachelor males have significantly larger neck girths than other males. Territorial males can also be identified by glandular secretions seen as patches on the neck in May and November from small facial glands because territorial males secrete more hormones.
•    Territorial males emit whistles to attract females and also to warn off other males.
•    One third of the world’s puku population is located in protected areas because of diminishing habitat and are now listed as a near threatened species.
•    To read legends featuring this animal go to;
•    Children’s book featuring this animal: Do Antelope Eat Cantaloupe? By Leigh Legene


Francis, C. and Z. Neitzey 2012. "Kobus vardonii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at