Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Red Lechwe

Kobus leche


Red lechwe are a medium-sized antelope that can grow to be 90-112 cm tall. This species is chestnut in color with white underparts, throat, and facial markings. The legs of this species tend to be darker in color, as well as the dark body markings (which may vary in color from black to red). Male lechwe become darker in color with age. Both sexes of this species has thin horns that can grow to 45-92 cm in length.


This species can be found in Africa’s southern savanna, with populations existing in Zambia and along rivers of Angola and Botswana. Lechwe prefer to inhabit flood plains bordering swamps, this is because food and water are abundant within flood plains. A common habitat to find this species is within flat plains within flood plains, where wet meadow is maintained by the flood cycle. During flooding, this species shifts to inhabit nearby woodlands.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Lechwe are herbivores, consuming only vegetation. Lechwe prefer grasses found in flooded meadows. This species will wade up to their bellies in water of flooded meadows to feed. During cool dry weather this species does not require water but they drink up to three times a day during dry hot weather.


This species breeds during a 2.5 month period between November and February, during the rainy season. A single calf is born 8 months after breeding; most calves of the Kafue Flats are born between mid-July and mid-September. After a period of hiding, calves form groups of 50 individuals, independently of their mothers. Young are weaned after 5-6 months. Females reach sexual maturity at one and a half years old while males do not reach maturity until they are five years old.

Months and Times of Activity

Red lechwe are most active before sunrise and just after sunrise for a few hours.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Lechwe are listed as threatened under CITES- Appendix II, US ESA and they are listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN. Population decline for this species is due to the building of hydroelectric dams in 1971-1987, which altered the natural flooding cycle.

•    Children’s book featuring this animal: The Antelope Who Loved Cantaloupe by Celeste Marie Halata


Newell, T. 1999. "Kobus leche" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at