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male K. l. leche
Nkasa Rupara National Park, Namibia
CITES Appendix II (CITES)[2]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Kobus
K. leche
Binomial name
Kobus leche
Gray, 1850
Distribution range of lechwe

Onotragus leche

The lechwe, red lechwe, or southern lechwe (Kobus leche) is an antelope found in wetlands of south-central Africa.


The lechwe is native to Botswana, Zambia, southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeastern Namibia, and eastern Angola, especially in the Okavango Delta, Kafue Flats, and Bangweulu Wetlands. The species is fairly common in zoos and wild animal farms.


Adult lechwe typically stand 90 to 100 cm (35 to 39 in) at the shoulder and generally weigh from 50 to 120 kg (110 to 260 lb), with males being larger than females. They are golden brown with white bellies. Males are darker in colour, but exact hue and amount of blackish on the front legs, chest and body varies depending on subspecies. The long, spiral horns are vaguely lyre-shaped and borne only by males. The hind legs are somewhat longer in proportion than in other antelopes to ease long-distance running on marshy soil.


Lechwe are found in marshy areas where they are an important herbivore of aquatic plants.[3] They use the knee-deep water as protection from predators. Their legs are covered in a water-repellant substance which allows them to run quite fast in knee-deep water. Lechwe are diurnal. They gather in herds which can include many thousands of individuals.[4] Herds are usually all of one sex, but during mating season they mix.[5]



Kafue lechwes (K. l. kafuensis) where the male has more black to the front legs and chest than the red and Upemba lechwes, but less than the black lechwe that also has some blackish to the side of the body

Four subspecies of the lechwe have been recognized.[6][7]

In addition, the Upemba lechwe (Kobus anselli) and the extinct Cape lechwe (Kobus venterae) are also considered subspecies by some authorities (as Kobus leche anselli and Kobus leche venterae).[8][9]

Although related and sharing the name "lechwe", the Nile lechwe (K. megaceros) is consistently recognized as a separate species.[7]


Lechwe mate during rain seasons of November to February. They have a gestation period of seven to eight months so a majority of calves are born from July to September. [10] Although rare, hybrids between lechwe and waterbuck have been observed.[11]


  1. ^ IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2017). "Kobus leche". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T11033A50189021. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T11033A50189021.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Appendices | CITES". cites.org. Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  3. ^ Franceschini, M. Celeste; Murphy, Kevin J.; Moore, Isabel; Kennedy, Michael P.; Martínez, Fedra S.; Willems, Frank; De Wysiecki, M. Laura; Sichingabula, Henry (29 July 2020). "Impacts on freshwater macrophytes produced by small invertebrate herbivores: Afrotropical and Neotropical wetlands compared". Hydrobiologia. 847 (17): 3931–3950. doi:10.1007/s10750-020-04360-5. S2CID 220843360.
  4. ^ Windhoek, UrbanCamp net | Camping | Leisure |. "Lechwe". urbancamp.net. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  5. ^ Nefdt, Rory J. C.; Thirgood, Simon J. (1997). "Lekking, resource defense, and harassment in two subspecies of lechwe antelope". Behavioral Ecology. 8: 1–9. doi:10.1093/beheco/8.1.1.
  6. ^ Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 720. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  7. ^ a b Groves, C.; Grubb, P. (2011). Ungulate Taxonomy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 190–1. ISBN 978-1-4214-0093-8.
  8. ^ IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2017). "Kobus leche ssp. anselli". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T136937A50198198. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T136937A50198198.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  9. ^ Brain, C. K. (1983). The Hunters Or the Hunted?: An Introduction to African Cave Taphonomy. American Bar Foundation. p. 173.
  10. ^ Newell, T. 1999. "Kobus leche" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 06, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Kobus_leche/
  11. ^ "Antelope hybrid in the wilds of northern Botswana". Africa Geographic. 19 May 2016. Archived from the original on 7 August 2020.

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