Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus)

roan antelope

Up the hill from the Sulawesi crested Macaque Island, opposite Fur Feathers and Scales.

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head and body length: 200-219cm. Tail length: 35-38cm

Weight 223-300kg. Males tend to be heavier than females.

Gestation 9-9 ½ months

Young 1

Life span Up to 17 years.

What do I eat?

Roan antelope are herbivores and are known as "grazers". They feed on medium to tall grasses (often no lower than 15cm from the ground). These animals will often avoid areas that have more animals feeding on the shorter length grasses (such as impalas, wildebeest and zebras).

Roan antelope are known to also feed on other plants such as shrubs, herbs and pods from Acacia trees. These animals need to drink on a regular basis, so can be found in areas that have good access to water.

Where do I live?

These antelopes are found in many countries in Africa.

They prefer to live in habitats such as savannah woodlands and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa in areas that do not have many other herbivores around.


Roan antelopes are social animals and can be found in herds of 5 to 35 individuals. The structure of these herds usually includes a dominant male, females and their young. Male roan antelope without a herd of their own will usually form bachelor groups with other males.

They do not have a particular breeding season, as they can have young at any time of the year. The females give birth in a secluded spot away from the herd and will stay with their newborn calf for around 5 days before leaving it hidden so she can return to the herd. The female will come back early morning and late afternoons so that the calf can suckle on her milk. The calf will join the herd as soon as they are old enough to keep up with others in its group.

Roan antelope calves are weaned from their mothers by 6 months old, and are usually mature by the time they reach 3 years old. At this time young males are pushed out of the group by the dominant male. They will then join other young males until they are older and strong enough to compete for a herd of females of their own.


Due to their size and strength, healthy adult roan antelope are rarely hunted by other animals. However old, ill, weak and young animals are threatened by predators such as lions, leopards, hyenas and African wild dogs.

If threatened roan antelope are known to tackle predators using their strong, scimitar shaped horns. Some big cats have suffered fatal injuries from confrontations with these feisty antelopes.


Many roan antelope are no longer found in some areas of their original range due to hunting and loss of habitat. This has been caused by farming and more land wanted for human settlements.

Roan antelope are found within areas close to and in protected national parks, along with areas with low human populations.

Did you know?

The roan antelope is the second largest antelope found in Africa, the largest is the eland (Taurotragus spp.).

Both males and females have horns. The horns of a female are slightly smaller and less heavily ridged than the males.

Female roan antelope are able to breed again soon after giving birth (this is known as "postpartum estrus"). There have been reports of roan antelope feeding an older calf and having a newborn calf around the same time.

Roan antelope do not defend territories from others of the same species. However a dominant male will fiercely defend his herd of females from other males!

When these animals fight each other (usually a male defending his herd from other males), they will strut around in circles before running towards each other, dropping to their knees and hitting their horns violently together!


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