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Red Lechwes (Kobus leche leche) in the Okavango Delta

Red Lechwes ( Kobus leche leche ) in the Okavango Delta

without rank: Forehead weapon bearer (Pecora)
Family : Horned Bearers (Bovidae)
Subfamily : Antilopinae
Tribe : Reduncini
Genre : Waterbuck ( Kobus )
Type : Letschwe
Scientific name
Kobus leche
Gray , 1850

The Letschwe ( Kobus leche ) is an African antelope belonging to the waterbuck genus . Other spellings are Lechwe (as in English) or Lychee .


Male Kafue-Letschwe ( K. l. Kafuensis )

This antelope is medium-sized with a shoulder height of one meter, its back slopes down from the hindquarters to the shoulders. Only the male has long, strongly curled, lyre-shaped horns. Several subspecies can be distinguished on the basis of the drawing. With the Red Letschwe , the bright chestnut brown on the top contrasts with the white underside. Striking black stripes cover the forelegs. The males reach a weight of 118 kilograms, the females 80 kilograms.


The Letschwe has only a small and very isolated distribution area in the wetlands of Botswana , Namibia , Angola , Zambia and southern Congo . It is bound to alluvial plains and seasonally flooded swamps such as the Okawango Basin . In the shallow water it feeds almost exclusively on swamp grasses.


Males are territorial, but their territories are very small due to the high population density and only measure 15 to 200 meters in diameter. The competition is extreme, and few males can hold their territory longer than a few days. Females form herds that can contain up to a thousand animals.


The Letschwe is classified as an independent species within the genus of the waterbuck ( Kobus ), which currently consists of twelve species. The first scientific description comes from the British zoologist John Edward Gray from 1850, who described the species on the basis of individuals from the Boteti River near Lake Ngami in Botswana (in his first description referred to as "Banks of the river Zoaga" and later assigned).

Within the species, four subspecies are distinguished together with the nominate form :

  • Kobus leche kafuensis
  • Kobus leche leche
  • Kobus leche robertsi
  • Kobus leche smithemani

Kobus leche robertsi is extinct, the other four subspecies occur in different numbers in Africa. The Upemba lychee (now Kobus anselli ), which was first described in 2005, was formerly assigned to the species, but is now regarded as an independent species.

Status, threat and protection

Herd of Black Letschwes ( K. l. Smithemani ) in the Bangweulus swamps

The Letschwe has become rarer due to poaching and habitat destruction. The red Letschwe ( K. l. Leche ) is doing best , of which there are 30,000 copies in the Okawango Delta and which is also widespread in other parts of Botswana and Angola. The Kafue-Letschwe ( K. l. Kafuensis ) lives in Zambia along the Kafue River, for example in the Lochinvar National Park . Poaching has halved its population from 100,000 to 50,000 animals. The construction of the Itezhitezhi dam on the Kafue has made a major contribution to the preservation of the population due to the now relatively constant water level in the Kafue floodplains and the regular flooding for reasons of grazing. The Kafue dam is indifferent to this question, as its reservoir is located in a gorge and does not flood any floodplain. The Black Letschwe ( K. l. Smithemani ) lives in the Bangweulus swamps around Lake Bangweulus in Zambia; Due to the drainage of large parts of these swamps, the populations fell from 250,000 (1930) to 30,000 animals. The IUCN classifies the Black Lechwe and the Kafue Lechwe as "endangered". Overall, the species is considered "not endangered".

The Roberts-Letschwe ( K. l. Robertsi ), which was once common along the Luongo and Luena rivers in Zambia, is now extinct . There are no surviving specimens of this subspecies in the wild or in captivity.

supporting documents

  1. a b c d Kobus leche in the Red List of Endangered Species of the IUCN 2015-4. Listed by: Antelope Specialist Group, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  2. ^ A b Colin P. Groves and David M. Leslie Jr .: Family Bovidae (Hollow-horned Ruminants). In: Don E. Wilson and Russell A. Mittermeier (eds.): Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2: Hooved Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2011, ISBN 978-84-96553-77-4 , pp. 444-779
  3. a b Kobus leche ( Memento of the original from February 17, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . In: Don E. Wilson , DeeAnn M. Reeder (Eds.): Mammal Species of the World. A taxonomic and geographic Reference. 2 volumes. 3. Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore MD 2005, ISBN 0-8018-8221-4 .  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.vertebrates.si.edu
  4. a b Kobus leche ssp. robertsi in the IUCN 2015-4 Red List of Threatened Species . Listed by: Antelope Specialist Group, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2016.


  • CA Spinage: The Natural History of Antelopes . Croom Helm, London 1986, ISBN 0-7099-4441-1

Web links

Commons : Letschwe  - collection of images, videos and audio files