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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Subfamily Reduncinae
Rhebok, reedbucks, and waterbucks
The African subfamily Reduncinae is a group of medium- to large-sized grazers, most of which have strong ties to water. There are three distinct genera, each of which are easily distinguishable and specialized for different habitats. Geographical separation has lead to the evolution of three North-South species-pairs (kob and puku, bohor and southern reedbuck, and Nile lechwe and lechwe), with sister species fulfilling the same ecological roles in different regions.

Although currently restricted to Africa, reduncine antelope first appear in the fossil record of Eurasia 7.4 million years ago; fossils from African deposits are known from around 6.6 million years ago. There are two tribes within this subfamily:

  1. Reduncini - reedbucks and waterbucks
  2. Peleini - rhebok

The rhebok, Pelea capreolus, is an evolutionarily enigmatic species and is sometimes placed in a separate subfamily, Peleinae - only recently has this species been allied with the reedbucks and waterbucks. The temperate montane habitat of the rhebok has lead to morphological convergence with other ungulate groups from similar niches, notably sheep and goats (Caprini).

All species within this subfamily have long hair; the largest species (Kobus) are shaggy and distinctly oily, while the coats of smaller species (Redunca, Pelea) tend to resemble fleece. Preorbital glands are absent in all species except for Kobus kob. Within this subfamily, horns are present in males only. In the tribe Reduncini, the horns curl forward at the tips, while they are needle-like and straight in the rhebok. In all species, the horns have basal annulations.

The Reduncinae Family Tree
Branch lengths are not proportional to time
(From Hernandez-Fernandez and Vrba, 2005)


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Pelea capreolus

Redunca fulvorufula

Redunca arundinum

Redunca redunca

Kobus kob

Kobus vardonii

Kobus ellipsiprymnus

Kobus leche

Kobus megaceros

Click on the species above to learn more,
or jump to the Reduncinae Species List
Literature Cited

Estes, R. D. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: including hoofed mammals, carnivores, primates. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Hernandez-Fernandez, M., and E. S. Vrba. 2005. A complete estimate of the phylogenetic relationships in Ruminantia: a dated species-level supertree of the extant ruminants. Biological Review; 80: 269-302.

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

Vrba, E. S., and G. B. Schaller. 2000. Phylogeny of Bovidae based on behavior, glands, skulls, and postcrania. In Antelopes, Deer, and Relatives. Edited by E.S.Vrba and G.B.Schaller. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. pp. 203-222.