Unusual features/differences from similar
Southern Africa's second largest antelope after the Eland
Visible Male/Female Differences
larger and more heavily built than females and the horns are longer and thicker.
The penis sheath
is clearly visible in the male. Females have two pairs of nipples between their hind legs.
Habitat and Distribution
Lightly wooded savanna with open areas of medium
to tall grass as well as access to water.
A selective grazer preferring leaves but will browse when grazing
is very poor. Their preferred feeding height is 15-150 cm and will crop green shoots to 2 cm.
Single calves are born at any time of year after a gestation 267-287 days.
Calves are weaned at six
months with an average calving interval of 317 days. Females first calve at 32-34 months. Lifespan
is 10-12 years. Roan are killed five
times more frequently than zebra and three times more frequently than wildebeest
by lions in north-eastern Kruger National Park. The mortality
rate of calves is high.
Behavior and Habits
Most active in the cool of the day and spends the hottest part of the day in
the shade. Females and their young live in herds of up to about 12 adults. Their
ranges are about 60 sq km and they overlap. Like grandmothers, older cows are more dominant in
the female hierarchy and they stand sentinel on the edges of the herd while the others feed.
Mature breeding bulls
maintain a no-mans-land of 400m wide around their herd to easily spot impostors.
Impostors are challenged by the dominant but with an intimidating pose with neck
arched, chin tucked in, and ears out sideways. If this does not work, a serious fight for take-over of
a herd my ensue. Fights are lengthy contests of horn hooking and wrestling, both
going down onto
their knees for maximum leverage. Normally the losing contestant runs away before serious
injury is sustained. Adult bulls who do not associate with nursery herds do not
form bachelor herds. Young males live in small bachelor herds after being expelled from nursery herds at about two years old. Both males and
females thrash the ground and plants with their
Secretion from glands between the hooves of all four feet scent-marks their
Normally silent but makes a hoarse snorting noise when alarmed
Dung pellets are 2 cm long, tapered at one end, hollow at the other, similar in size to
sable's, but roan do not leave scrape marks. Thrashed bushes.