The bushbuck, also scientifically known as Tragelaphus scriptus, is a medium-sized antelope species found in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It is known for its distinctive physical features and adaptability to different habitats.

Bushbucks have a compact and sturdy build, with a shoulder height of around 70-100 cm (28-39 inches) and a weight ranging from 40 to 80 kg (88 to 176 lbs). The males, known as rams, are larger and heavier than the females, called ewes. Both genders have a reddish-brown to dark-brown coat, which is marked with white stripes and spots that vary in intensity among individuals.

These antelopes are primarily found in forested areas, including rainforests, woodland savannas, and riverine habitats. They are well-adapted to their environment, with elongated hooves that provide good traction and agility, allowing them to navigate through dense vegetation and rocky terrain with ease.

Bushbucks are primarily herbivores, feeding on a variety of plant materials such as leaves, fruits, and grasses. They are mainly active during the early morning and late afternoon, taking shelter in the shade during the hottest parts of the day. Their solitary nature and elusive behavior make them relatively difficult to spot in the wild.

In terms of reproduction, bushbucks are polygynous, meaning that one male mates with multiple females. During the mating season, rams engage in displays of dominance and compete for mating rights. After a gestation period of around six to seven months, the female gives birth to a single calf, which remains hidden in dense vegetation for protection.

While bushbucks are not considered endangered, they do face certain threats, including habitat loss due to deforestation and hunting for their meat and hides. However, their adaptable nature and ability to inhabit a range of environments contribute to their overall population stability.

Bushbuck: Species Profile



SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tragelaphus scriptus

TYPE: Mammal

FOOD: Bushbucks are herbivores, feeding on a variety of vegetation. Their diet includes leaves, shoots, fruits, flowers, and grasses. They are adaptable feeders and can consume a wide range of plant species depending on their habitat.

HABITAT: Bushbucks inhabit a variety of habitats including forests, woodlands, savannas, and bushy areas. They are found across sub-Saharan Africa in diverse environments such as riverine forests, montane forests, and coastal forests. They prefer areas with dense vegetation and access to water sources.

SIZE: Bushbucks are medium-sized antelopes. Adult males, known as rams, typically have a shoulder height of around 75-100 centimeters (30-39 inches) and weigh between 45-80 kilograms (99-176 pounds). Adult females, known as ewes, are slightly smaller, with a shoulder height of approximately 60-85 centimeters (24-33 inches) and a weight of 30-60 kilograms (66-132 pounds).

AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE NATURAL HABITAT: In the wild, bushbucks have an average lifespan of around 10-15 years. However, their longevity can be influenced by various factors including predation, habitat conditions, and availability of food resources.

ACTIVE: Bushbucks are primarily crepuscular and nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk, as well as throughout the night. They tend to rest and seek shade during the hottest parts of the day. Bushbucks are known for their secretive behavior and tend to remain hidden in thick vegetation to avoid predators.

GESTATION PERIOD: The gestation period of bushbucks lasts for approximately 6-7 months. After this period, a single calf is born, which remains hidden in dense vegetation for protection. The mother returns periodically to nurse and care for the calf.

WEIGHT: The weight of adult bushbucks varies depending on their sex. Adult rams typically weigh between 45-80 kilograms (99-176 pounds), while adult ewes weigh approximately 30-60 kilograms (66-132 pounds).

SIZE COMPARISON TO A 6-FT MAN: The size of a bushbuck is smaller compared to a 6-ft man. Adult males have a shoulder height of around 75-100 centimeters (30-39 inches), while adult females have a shoulder height of approximately 60-85 centimeters (24-33 inches).

Distinctive Physical Features:

The bushbuck is a medium-sized antelope species found in various parts of Africa. Here is some information about the appearance of the bushbuck:

  1. Size: Bushbucks typically stand around 70 to 100 centimeters (28 to 39 inches) tall at the shoulder. They have a body length of approximately 100 to 140 centimeters (39 to 55 inches). Males are slightly larger and heavier than females.
  2. Weight: Adult bushbucks can weigh between 45 to 80 kilograms (99 to 176 pounds). Again, males tend to be heavier than females.
  3. Coat: The bushbuck has a short and coarse coat consisting of two layers. The outer layer is made up of coarse guard hairs, while the inner layer provides insulation. The coloration of the coat can vary depending on the subspecies and habitat, but in general, the bushbuck has a reddish-brown or dark brown coat. They often have white markings, such as spots, stripes, or patches, on their body.
  4. Markings: One of the distinctive features of the bushbuck is the presence of white markings on their body. These markings can be seen on the neck, chest, underbelly, cheeks, and around the eyes. Males typically have more prominent and contrasting markings than females.
  5. Horns: Both male and female bushbucks have horns, although those of males are larger and more robust. The horns are twisted and ridged, growing in a spiral shape. They can reach lengths of up to 50 to 70 centimeters (20 to 28 inches) in males, while female horns are shorter and thinner.
  6. Facial Features: Bushbucks have a slender and elongated face with a tapered muzzle. They have large, round, and forward-facing eyes, which provide them with good vision. Their ears are moderately long and pointed.
  7. Adaptations: The physical characteristics of the bushbuck allow them to thrive in their habitat. The reddish-brown coloration helps them blend into the surrounding vegetation, providing camouflage and protection against predators. The white markings may serve as a form of communication between individuals.

The bushbuck is a visually striking antelope with its reddish-brown coat and prominent white markings. Their slender build, unique horn shape, and well-adapted features make them well-suited to their natural environment.

Habitat and Range:

The bushbuck is primarily found in sub-Saharan Africa, inhabiting a diverse range of forested habitats, including rainforests, savannas, and woodland areas. They have adapted to living in both dense, closed-canopy forests as well as more open areas with scattered trees. Their ability to thrive in such varied environments has contributed to their wide distribution across the continent.

Behavior and Adaptations:

The bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) is a fascinating antelope species found in various parts of Africa. Here are some key behaviors and characteristics of the bushbuck:

  1. Territoriality: Bushbucks are known for their territorial behavior. Male bushbucks mark their territories using scent glands located on their faces, legs, and preorbital glands near their eyes. They rub these scent glands against trees and vegetation, leaving behind a scent that signals their presence to other bushbucks.
  2. Solitary Nature: Bushbucks are primarily solitary animals, with each individual maintaining its own territory. They are often encountered alone or in small family groups consisting of a female and her offspring. Male bushbucks are more solitary and tend to be territorial over a larger area.
  3. Nocturnal Habits: Bushbucks are primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night. They rest during the day in dense vegetation or secluded areas to avoid predators and the heat of the day. Their excellent night vision helps them navigate and find food during the dark hours.
  4. Diet: Bushbucks are herbivores and have a diverse diet. They feed on various types of vegetation, including leaves, grass, fruits, and flowers. They are selective browsers and often target nutritious plant parts, such as young leaves and shoots. Their feeding habits contribute to the dispersal of seeds throughout their habitat.
  5. Agile and Cautious: Bushbucks are known for their agility and ability to navigate through dense vegetation. They have a leaping and bounding running style, which helps them evade predators and maneuver through their habitat. When alarmed, they can produce a loud, grunting alarm call to alert others and signal danger.
  6. Water Dependence: Although bushbucks are adapted to drier habitats, they still require access to water sources. They will visit waterholes, streams, and rivers to drink and may even submerge themselves partially to escape heat and parasites.
  7. Predator Avoidance: Bushbucks have developed various strategies to avoid predation. Their reddish-brown coat provides camouflage in the dense vegetation, helping them blend into their surroundings. They are also cautious and vigilant, using their keen senses of sight, smell, and hearing to detect potential threats.
  8. Mating and Reproduction: During the breeding season, male bushbucks compete for access to females. They engage in displays of dominance, such as locking horns, pushing, and vocalizations. Females give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of around six to seven months. The calf remains hidden in dense vegetation for protection.
  9. Excellent Jumpers and Swimmers: Bushbucks are remarkably agile and adept at navigating their forested habitats. They are skilled jumpers, leaping over fallen logs and navigating through dense vegetation with grace and precision. Additionally, they are competent swimmers and can take to the water when necessary, using their strong legs to propel themselves through rivers and swamps.

Ecological Significance:

The bushbuck plays a vital role in maintaining the balance of forest ecosystems. As selective browsers, they help shape vegetation dynamics by influencing plant growth and diversity. By controlling the density of certain plant species, the bushbuck contributes to the overall health and resilience of the forest ecosystem.

Conservation Status:

The bushbuck is currently listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, localized threats such as habitat loss, poaching, and competition with livestock can impact their populations in certain regions. Continued efforts to protect their forest habitats and regulate hunting are crucial for the long-term survival of this captivating species.

Tragelaphus scriptus

The Tragelaphus scriptus (bushbuck), with its striking appearance, secretive behavior, and vital ecological role, is a captivating symbol of Africa’s diverse forest ecosystems. Its adaptability to different forested habitats and unique adaptations highlight the remarkable resilience of nature. By preserving the forests and protecting the bushbuck, we contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and ensure the survival of this enigmatic antelope for generations to come.

Bushbuck Adaptations

These adaptations have helped bushbucks thrive in their natural habitat. Their camouflage, agile movement, scent marking, keen senses, vigilance, selective feeding, and water dependency all contribute to their survival in various ecosystems across Africa.

  1. Camouflage: Bushbucks have a reddish-brown coat with white markings and spots, providing effective camouflage in their forested and woodland habitats. This helps them blend into the surrounding vegetation and avoid detection by predators.
  2. Agile Movement: Bushbucks have a slender body and long, slender legs, which enable them to navigate through dense vegetation with ease. They can leap and bound swiftly, allowing them to escape from predators or move quickly to find food and water.
  3. Scent Glands: Bushbucks possess scent glands located on their faces, legs, and preorbital glands near their eyes. These glands produce a strong musky odor used for territorial marking. By rubbing against trees and vegetation, bushbucks communicate their presence and assert their territory.
  4. Keen Senses: Bushbucks have well-developed senses that help them survive in their environment. They have sharp eyesight, allowing them to detect movement and spot potential threats. Their sense of smell is also highly developed, helping them locate food, detect predators, and communicate with other bushbucks.
  5. Vigilance and Alarm Calls: Bushbucks are vigilant animals and remain alert to their surroundings. They are quick to react to any signs of danger and emit loud grunting alarm calls to warn others in the area. This behavior helps protect the group and ensures their safety.
  6. Selective Feeding: Bushbucks are selective browsers, meaning they carefully choose their diet. They feed on a variety of vegetation, plucking leaves with their long, flexible tongues. This selective feeding allows them to obtain the necessary nutrients and adapt to the changing availability of food sources.
  7. Water Dependency: While bushbucks can extract moisture from the vegetation they consume, they still require access to water sources. They visit waterholes regularly to drink and may even partially submerge themselves to cool down and ward off parasites.

Best place to see Bushbucks in Tanzania

Tanzania offers a plethora of national parks and reserves where you can maximize your chances of encountering bushbucks in their natural habitat. Here are some prime locations to consider:

Serengeti National Park:

Known for its vast grasslands and the Great Wildebeest Migration, Serengeti is home to a thriving population of bushbucks. Keep an eye out for them while exploring the park.

Ruaha National Park:

Located in central Tanzania, Ruaha National Park is characterized by its diverse landscapes, including riverine forests and open grasslands, providing an ideal habitat for bushbucks.

Selous Game Reserve:

Covering a vast area, Selous Game Reserve is known for its pristine wilderness and diverse wildlife. Take a safari through this reserve to spot bushbucks among other fascinating animals.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area:

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to various wildlife species, including bushbucks. Explore the crater floor or the surrounding highlands for a chance to see them.

Arusha National Park:

Situated near the town of Arusha, this park offers a diverse range of landscapes, from montane forests to open savannas. Bushbucks can be spotted while exploring the park’s different ecosystems.

Mikumi National Park:

Located in southern Tanzania, Mikumi National Park is known for its open grasslands, where bushbucks can often be seen grazing. Take a game drive through the park for a chance to spot them.

Katavi National Park:

Situated in the western part of Tanzania, Katavi National Park is a remote and less-visited park that offers incredible wildlife encounters. Look out for bushbucks along the park’s riverine areas.

Mahale Mountains National Park:

This park is renowned for its population of chimpanzees, but it is also home to bushbucks. Explore the park’s dense forests and lake shores for a chance to spot these graceful antelopes.

Saadani National Park:

Located along the coast of Tanzania, Saadani National Park is unique as it combines both wildlife and marine ecosystems. Spot bushbucks in the park’s woodlands and savannas, and enjoy the coastal scenery as well.

Tarangire National Park:

Famous for its large elephant population and baobab trees, Tarangire National Park also provides a habitat for bushbucks. Keep an eye out for them near the park’s water sources.

Remember, while these locations offer good opportunities to see bushbucks, wildlife sightings can vary, and it’s important to be patient and observant during your safari to increase your chances of encountering these beautiful antelopes.

Bushbuck Safari tips

Here are some safari tips to enhance your bushbuck viewing experience in Tanzania:

  1. Choose the Right Time: Bushbucks are more active during the early morning and late afternoon when temperatures are cooler. Plan your safari accordingly to maximize your chances of spotting them during their peak activity periods.
  2. Engage a Knowledgeable Guide: Hiring an experienced guide who is familiar with the behavior and habitat of bushbucks can greatly enhance your chances of successful sightings. Their expertise and local knowledge will help you locate and observe these elusive creatures.
  3. Be Patient and Quiet: Patience is key when it comes to wildlife viewing. Take your time at each location, allowing yourself to blend into the environment and giving the bushbucks time to appear. Avoid making loud noises or sudden movements that could scare them away.
  4. Use Binoculars and Cameras: Pack a pair of binoculars to help you scan the landscape for bushbucks, as they may be hidden in dense vegetation. Additionally, bring a camera with a zoom lens to capture detailed photos without disturbing the animals.
  5. Choose Off-Road Routes: While on a safari, opt for off-road routes or guided walking safaris where permitted. This allows you to explore areas with denser vegetation where bushbucks often seek refuge.
  6. Stay Observant: Keep your eyes peeled for signs of bushbucks, such as fresh tracks, droppings, or broken vegetation. Also, listen for any alarm calls from other animals that could indicate the presence of bushbucks nearby.
  7. Respect their Space: Remember to maintain a respectful distance from the bushbucks and avoid encroaching on their territory. This ensures minimal disturbance and allows them to exhibit natural behaviors.
  8. Dress Appropriately: Wear neutral-colored clothing that blends with the environment, such as khaki or muted shades, to avoid standing out and potentially alarming the bushbucks. Also, consider packing lightweight, breathable clothing for the hot climate.
  9. Combine Game Drives and Walking Safaris: Opt for a combination of game drives and walking safaris to diversify your bushbuck viewing experiences. Walking safaris offer a closer connection with nature and can lead to more intimate encounters.
  10. Follow Park Rules and Guidelines: Always adhere to the rules and guidelines set by the national parks and reserves you visit. These regulations are in place to protect both wildlife and visitors, ensuring a sustainable and responsible safari experience.

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of spotting and appreciating the beauty of bushbucks during your safari adventure in Tanzania. Enjoy the remarkable landscapes and wildlife encounters that this incredible country has to offer!

Frequently Asked Questions about the Bushbuck

Here are some frequently asked questions about bushbucks in Tanzania:

Q: What is a bushbuck?

A bushbuck is a medium-sized antelope species found in sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania. They are known for their beautiful reddish-brown coats and distinctive white markings on their face, throat, chest, and tail.

Q: Where can I see bushbucks in Tanzania?

A: Tanzania offers several prime locations for bushbuck sightings, including Serengeti National Park, Ruaha National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Arusha National Park, and more. These diverse habitats provide opportunities to observe bushbucks in their natural environment.

Q: Are bushbucks diurnal or nocturnal animals?

A: Bushbucks are primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the early morning and late evening hours. This behavior can make them a bit more challenging to spot compared to diurnal species.

Q: What is the best time to see bushbucks?

A: The best time to see bushbucks is during their peak activity periods, which are early morning and late afternoon. Plan your safari accordingly to increase your chances of encountering these elusive antelopes.

Q: Are bushbucks solitary or social animals?

A: Bushbucks are solitary animals, with males defending territories that can span several hectares. They prefer to live and forage alone, except during the breeding season when males may compete for females.

Q: What habitats do bushbucks prefer?

A: Bushbucks are adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including dense forests, riverine areas, savannas, and shrublands. They are well-suited to diverse ecosystems, allowing them to thrive in different parts of Tanzania.

Q: How can I increase my chances of spotting bushbucks during a safari?

A: Engaging a knowledgeable guide, being patient and observant, using binoculars, and opting for off-road routes or guided walking safaris can increase your chances of spotting bushbucks. Respecting their space and following park rules are also important for a successful sighting.

Q: Can I take photographs of bushbucks during a safari?

A: Yes, you can take photographs of bushbucks during your safari. It’s recommended to bring a camera with a zoom lens to capture detailed shots without disturbing the animals. Remember to respect their space and not to get too close.

Q: Are bushbucks endangered or protected?

A: Bushbucks are not currently classified as endangered. However, they are protected under national park regulations and wildlife conservation efforts in Tanzania to ensure their long-term survival and well-being.

Q: What other wildlife can I expect to see along with bushbucks in Tanzania?

A: Tanzania is known for its rich wildlife diversity. While on a safari, you may encounter other fascinating animals such as elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, hippos, various bird species, and more, depending on the specific location you visit.

These FAQs should provide you with valuable information about bushbucks and their sightings in Tanzania. Enjoy your safari adventure and the remarkable wildlife encounters that await you!


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