Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Roan Antelope

Hippotragus equinus


Roan antelope have a gray-brown coat with a hint of red, while the legs of this animal are darker in color than the rest of the body. A roan antelope’s head is a dark brown or black with white patches around the mouth, nose, and in front of the eyes. There are lighter patches of fur behind the eyes of the roan antelope. Roan antelope have long, narrow ears with dark tips at the ends of the ears. They also have a short mane of short, stiff hair that is black at the tips and a tail with long, black, brush-like hair at the end. The coat of this species is more reddish-brown and lighter at a young age and gradually becomes darker with maturity. Both sexes of this species have ridged horns that curve backwards in the shape of a scimitar. Male roan antelope tend to be larger (260-300 kg and 150-160 cm at shoulder height) with longer, thicker horns than the females (which weigh 225-275 kg with a shoulder height of 140-160 cm).


This species can be found from south Sahara to Botswana. The northern savannah of Africa is home to two subspecies of roan antelope (H. equines kobc and H. equines bokeri). Another two subspecies (H. equines equines and H. equines cottoni) of roan antelope can be found in south and central Africa in the southern savannah. Roan antelope prefer lightly wooded habitat of the savanna with medium to tall grass and a source of water.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

As a herbivore, the roan antelope only consumes vegetation, and must have access to water to survive. Roan antelope graze on leaves and green shoots of about 15-150cm tall and will browse when grazing forage is unfavorable.


There is not a particular breeding season for roan antelope. Dominant males within a herd defend their females from mating with other males. Dominance is determined when males battle each other using their horns, in order to gain access to the females within the herd. Female roan antelope part from the herd two weeks before giving birth and rejoin the herd during the day after giving birth, leaving their calves during the day. Females and their calves do not permanently join the herd until young are strong enough to outrun danger, which is about five weeks. Females of this species reach sexual maturity after 32-34 months of age and are capable of producing a single calf every 10 months, after a gestation period of 260-281 days.

Months and Times of Activity

This species tends to be most active during the morning and evening (the cooler parts of the day) grazing on grasses and other foliage. During the middle of the day roan antelope retreat to densely wooded areas for cover.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Roan antelope can run 57 km/hour and will aggressively fight off predators when threatened.
•    Roan antelope live in herds of 6-35 individuals, each herd consist of a dominant male, dominant female, other females with their young, which are subject to a hierarchal system under the dominant pair. Young males are only permitted to stay with the herd until they are three years of age and then form bachelor herds with other juvenile males. Young females are permitted to remain with the herd until the herd becomes too large.
•    Although this species is listed as lower risk by IUCN, their populations have drastically declined due to habitat destruction, hunting and poaching and are on the CITES Appendix III in Ghana.
•    Roan antelope are the second largest species of antelope in the world.
•    To read legends featuring this animal go to;
•    Children’s book featuring this animal: Artie the Antelope Throws a Party by Debbie Robinson


Roe, B. 2002. "Hippotragus equinus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at