Selamta Music
Endemic Animals of Ethiopia                                

Swayne's Hartebeest

Addis Ababa  Axum  Dire Dawa  Gondar  Harar  Lalibela  Mekelle  Yeha  Wildlife  Historical Places
Awash National Park  Abiyata National Park  Bale National Park  Gambella National Park  Lakes             Rift Valley National Park 
National Parks  Simien National Park  Omo National Park                            Ethiopia travel facts  Ethiopia's Tourist Attractions  Travel Agencies  Tour Operators

Swayne's Hartebeest  


                                              (Alceluphus buselaphus swaynei)

Amharic: Korkay

The common African hartebeest has fifteen races of which two are already extinct and Swayne's is seriously endangered.

In 1891-2, Brigadier-General Swayne, who discovered the animals, was the first European to visit the area well south of the Golis range of Somaliland and about 200 kms. (125 miles) from the coast. The plains were described as "covered with hartebeest, 300-400 to a herd and a dozen or so herds in sight at any time"- Herds of a thousand individuals were observed. Within fifteen years the tens of thousands in Haud and Ogo that Swayne had seen had dwindled to such an extent that he estimated only about 880 remained. This rapid decline was due to the rinderpest, which swept Africa during the last century. The Somalis "went out daily and pulled down the sick animals with their bare hands in order to take the hides". Military campaigns followed in which the armed forces were permitted to kill as much game as they wanted. Arms flowed in and in the unsettled conditions which prevailed hunters very efficiently, and in a very short time, had almost succeeded in wiping out the remnants of the Oryx and Hartebeest herds in the area.

Hartebeest are almost grotesquely long-faced and have high withers and sloping hindquarters. The horns, carried by both sexes, are doubly curved and mounted on a pedicle. Some authors still consider that according to the shape of the horns, which is supposed to be the most important diagnostic character, each race of hartebeest should enjoy full specific rank. However, the presence of hybrid forms has led zoologists to regard them as a sub-species, and it is now generally accepted to classify them as geographic representatives of the same species.

Three types of horns can be distinguished in the buselaphus group:

U-shaped as in the now-extinct North African buba hartebeest, and in the western hartebeest from Gambela, Nigeria and Cameroon; V-shaped as in the Lelwel Hartebeest (A. buselaphus lelwel), Jackson's Hartebeest (A.b. jacksoni), and the South African cape hartebeest (A.b. caama), (all of which have very long heads and a uniform red-brown colour). The third type of horn is shaped like inverted brackets as in Coke's Hartebeest (A.b. cokii), in the pale tawny A.b. tora from Sudan and Ethiopia, and Swayne's Hartebeest, previous]y found in both Somalia and Ethiopia, but now restricted only to Ethiopia.

Swayne's is the eastern race of tora to whom it is closely related, both species being smaller than the uthers, but is distinguished from it by its considerably darker body colour. It is a deep red chocolate brown or chestnut with a fawn or cinnamon coloured rump, tail and lower half of legs. The tail tuft is black. Its face and upper parts of its body have dark blackish markings: a black stripe from the shoulder to the knee, a black smudge on the flanks, and black markings on the outside of the hind limbs are typical, but on the darkest individuals these black markings do not show clearly in the field. Adult specimens sometimes have a silvery appearance as the hairs are tipped with white. The horns are fully expanded and shaped like those of the tora; and curve out- wards and slightly downwards from the top of the head and then sweep upwards at the tips, and are usually, but not always, hooked backwards and they may or may not turn inwards.

Swayne's Hartebeest lives in open country, light bush, sometimes in tall savanna woodland. These are social animals and are normally seen in herds of 4-15, up to thirty. Each herd is under the leader- ship of the master bull which leads the females with their young. The territory is defended by the male. You may often see them grazing peacefully, with the bull on slightly higher ground acting as sentinel for his herd.

The small surviving population is now restricted to the grass and thorn scrub plains of southern Danakil and the Rift Valley lakes region, on the Alledeghi plains east of Awash and from Awash valley to the southern lakes. The Nechisar National Park has been established for their protection. Located on the shores of lakes Abaya and Chamo, the park is accessible from Arba Minch. The best known herd is about 100 head which inhabits an area of 400 sq. kms. near the shore of lake Chamo. However, the largest known population is on the heavily settled plain of Senkela in the Shashemane area. Here there are probably about 500 now in excellent condition but less likely to survive because of pressure on habitat. This hartebeest is listed by the IUCN among the species in the world in "imminent danger of extinction" and is completely protected by law in Ethiopia (1972 Wildlife Conservation). Pressure on its habitat by human beings was the main cause of its decline, and it is to hoped that with the creation of the national park and rigorous enforcement of the protection law, this beautifully coloured antelope will start to recover its numbers.


                                                                           Copyright ©  www.selamta.net


Set as homepage

Google in Amharic

Amharic Bible

Amharic Literature

Ark of the Covenant

National Parks

Historical Places

Ethiopia travel facts

Addis Ababa City Map

Addis Ababa hotels

Books about Ethiopia

Ethiopian Recipes

Ethiopian Calendar

Ethiopian Coffee

Ethiopian festivals


Ethiopian Alphabet

Amharic dictionary

Some funny Pictures




This site was last updated 05/26/18