An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Bovidae
          Subfamily: Reduncinae
            Genus: Kobus

Kobus kob



Kobus kob [Erxleben, 1777].  
Citation: Syst. Regni Anim., 1:293
Type locality: Upper Guinea, towards Senegal.

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 125-180 cm / 4.1-6 ft.
Shoulder Height: 70-105 cm / 2.3-3.5 ft.
Tail Length: 20-40 cm / 8-16 in.
Weight: 50-120 kg / 110-264 lb.

The smooth, shiny coat ranges from golden brown to chestnut above, with the underparts bright white.  Males darken with age, becoming a deep mahogany in the white-eared kob (K. k. leucotis).  The white-coloured facial markings include conspicuous eye rings, the insides of ears, and a throat bib.  The outer sides of the legs have a vertical black stripe running down the length, while the insides are white in colour.  The bushy tail is white underneath and terminates with a black tip.  The "S"-shaped horns are found only in males, and bend sharply backwards, then curve up.  They grow 40-69 cm / 16-28 inches long.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 7.5-9 months.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: After 6-7 months.
Sexual Maturity: Females at 13 months, males around 18 months.
Life span: Up to 17 years.

While births may occur throughout the year, in drought-prone areas there is a peak at the end of the rains (September-December).  After birth, the young lie concealed for about 6 weeks, after which they follow their mothers.

Ecology and Behavior

The kob is most active in the morning and late afternoon.  Adult males are territorial, although the size of their defended ranges varies depending on the habitat and population density.  The two extremes of this spectrum are a few relatively large areas, or a concentrated group of extremely small territories.  These compact groups, called leks, are normally 200 meters / 640 feet in diameter, with 12-15 (rarely over 200) approximately circular individual territories which measure 15-30 m / 50-100 feet across.  The resident male does not physically mark his area, rather he patrols its boundaries, often whistling loudly.  The length of time a male may hold his territory varies from days to months.  Population densities vary from 8-124 animals per square kilometer depending on the habitat.  In southeastern Sudan, huge herds congregate along waterways during the dry season from November to April, at which point the density often exceeds 1,000 animals per square kilometer.

Family group: Maternal and bachelor herds with 5-40 animals.  Groups over 1,000 are known.
Diet: Grasses.
Main Predators: Lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, Cape hunting dog.


Well-watered areas (like floodplains) across central Africa.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

The kob is classified as a low risk, conservation dependent species by the IUCN (1996).  K. k. kob and K. k. thomasi are considered to be low risk, conservation dependent subspecies, while K. k. leucotis is classified as a low risk, near threatened subspecies.


Certain taxonomists include the puku (Kobus vardonii) within this species.  Kobus (New Latin) from koba, an African name.

Literature Cited

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology).  1998.  Kobus kob.  In African Mammals Databank - A Databank for the Conservation and Management of the African Mammals Vol 1 and 2.  Bruxelles: European Commission Directorate.  Available online at

Kingdon, J.  1997.  The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals.  Academic Press, London and New York: NaturalWorld.

Nowak, R. M. [editor]. 1991.  Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition).  Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Walther, F. R. 1990.  Reedbucks, waterbucks,.and impalas.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Edited by S. P. Parker.  New York: McGraw-Hill.  Volume 5,  pp. 448-461.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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© Brent Huffman,
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