Red Lechwe

SIZE: Shoulder height 32 inches. Horn length averages 26 inches in mature males; 37 inches being the world record. Only males have the lyre-shaped horns. Weight averages 220 pounds.

COLOR: Upperparts of body and flanks reddish-yellow, underparts and insides of legs white. A white band extends from the white belly to chest and chin. Front of forelegs blackish. Hair long and rough.

MOST LIKE: Its close relative, the Puku, but is slightly larger and the male's horns are longer. The black bands down the front of the forelegs clearly distinguish it from the puku.

HABITAT: Grassy flood plains and shallow-water in seasonal swamps. Rarely found more than a kilometre or two from swamp or river with permanent water.

As a result of its amphibious habits, the lechwe is preyed on by a variety of predators, from crocodiles and pythons to lions, leopards, spotted hyaenas and wild dogs. Like the reedbuck, it sometimes flattens itself on the ground to avoid detection, suddenly taking off in startled leaps and bounds. Lechwe may congregate in hundreds or thousands, although most herds number about 20-30 individuals.

The ram will defend his territory with threatening displays, and will fight if an intruder tries to mate with one of his ewes. The clash of horns during these fierce, sometimes fatal, duels may be heard a long distance away. Calves can be born at any time of year. Cows leave the herd to give birth and hide their newborn calves for two to three weeks in the shelter of reeds on an island or other dry spot. Calf mortality is high: usually about 50%.