An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Bovidae
          Subfamily: Bovinae
            Genus: Tragelaphus

Tragelaphus scriptus



Tragelaphus scriptus [Pallas, 1766].  
Citation: Misc. Zool., p. 8.
Type locality: Senegal.
The taxonomic record (above) is taken from Wilson and Reeder (1993).

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

General Characteristics

Body Length: 100-150 cm / 3.3-5 ft.
Shoulder Height: 65-100 cm / 2.1-3.3 ft.
Tail Length: 30-35 cm / 12-14 in.
Weight: 25-80 kg / 55-175 lb.

The dark brown to chestnut to hazel coat has a varied pattern of up to 7 white stripes and spots, depending on the subspecies. The face has 1-2 white cheek spots, small white stripes at the corners of the eyes, and a white muzzle. The bushy tail is white underneath. The horns are found only in the males, and grow 25-55 cm / 10-22 inches long. They are nearly straight, with one tight twist.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: About 6 months
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: After 6 months
Sexual Maturity: At 11-12 months
Life span: About 12 years

Breeding occurs throughout the year.  The single young lies hidden away from its mother for the first few weeks of life.

Ecology and Behavior

Bushbuck may be active throughout the 24 hours of the day, although they tend to be nocturnal near human settlements.  Using trails through dense jungle, the bushbuck ranges through a restricted "home" area, which may be only a few hundred meters / yards across.  These home ranges overlap extensively, and it has been noted that the greater the population density, the smaller these home ranges are.  Savannah densities have been recorded as over 25 animals per square kilometer, while forest densities are much smaller - only 4 animals per square kilometer.  Males compete fiercely for females in estrous, but they are not territorial.  Confrontations between males are composed of displaying and charging, followed by the locking of horns and vigorous twisting in an attempt to throw the opponent off balance.  Stabbing with the horns has also been noted.  The bushbuck is an excellent jumper, clearing 2 meter / 6.5 feet tall fences with ease, and swims well.  The call resembles the bark of a dog.

Family group: Usually solitary, although sometimes in pairs.
Diet: Grasses as well as leaves, buds, and fruit.
Main Predators: Leopard, lion, crocodile


Open forests, bush savannas, and dense woodlands in most of Africa south of the Sahara.

Range Map (Redrawn from IAE, 1998)

Conservation Status

The bushbuck is not listed by either the IUCN or CITES.


Tragos (Greek) a he-goat ;.elaphos (Greek) a deer; in combination referring to an antelope.  Scribo (Latin) I write, thus scriptum something written; refers to the white markings on the coat.

Antilope harnaché, Guib (Walther, 1990)
Buschbock (Walther, 1990)

Literature Cited

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology) 1998. Tragelaphus scriptus. 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

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

Walther, F. R. 1990.  Spiral-horned antelopes.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Edited by S. P. Parker.  New York: McGraw-Hill.  Volume 5,  pp. 344-359.

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

Additional Resources

Alden, P. C., R. D. Estes, D. Schlitter, and B. McBride.  1995.  National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife.  New York: Chanticleer Press.

Boitani, L., and S. Bartoli.  1982.  Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals.  New York: Fireside/Simon & Schuster, Inc.  Entry 378.

Dankwa-Wiredu, B., and D. L. Euler.  2002.  Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus Pallas) habitat in Mole National Park, northern Ghana.  African Journal of Ecology 40(1): 35-41.

Fischer, F., and K. E. Linsenmair.  2001.  Decreases in ungulate population densities. Examples from the Comoe National Park, Ivory Coast.  Biological Conservation 101(2): 131-135.

Happold, D. C. D. 1987. The Mammals of Nigeria.  Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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.

Smits, C. M. M.  1986.  Diet composition and habitat use of the West African bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus scriptus (Pallas, 1776) during the first half of the dry season. South African Journal of Zoology 21: 89-94.

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