IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Biology

A grazing animal, Lichtenstein's hartebeest depends almost exclusively on grasses for food (4). Its long, slender snout may allow it to select better quality leaves from amongst the poorer quality, wiry grasses prevalent in its habitat (7). It may also have digestive adaptations allowing it to get greater benefit from these poorer quality grasses (7). Interestingly, it seems to prefer grasses and vegetation that have been burnt (3). It is strongly dependent on the availability of a surface water source, drinking daily (3), hence its preference for areas of high rainfall and waterlogged ground (3) (7). While some nocturnal feeding does take place, it is mostly active during the cooler periods of the day, in the morning and late afternoon (3) (4). Herds consist of either non-territorial, bachelor males, or a single, territorial adult male and six or seven adult females along with their offspring (4). The territorial adults occupy an area of around 2.5 square kilometres, usually incorporating better quality grazing and forcing the bachelor herds to inhabit the less suitable grazing areas (4). Territorial males will fiercely defend their territory, with the ensuing fights often leaving the animals wounded, occasionally resulting in death (3). At 16 to 18 months the females become sexually mature and leave the parent herd to join the herd of a territorial male. Breeding is seasonal, with most births taking place during the dry season around August (3) (7). After a gestation period of 240 days, the calves are born, and at this time, as an anti-predator mechanism, the territorial system may dissolve, leading to much larger herds. As a further protection against predation, births take place at roughly the same time within the herd (3). Interestingly, the mother, while grazing or drinking, makes little attempt to conceal her calf; it is simply bedded down in the open (3).

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Source: ARKive

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