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Show us your roan...

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inyathi

Thanks @@Tom Kellie as @@wilddog says seeing roan if you’re really keen to do so is not the hardest of African wildlife challenges by any means, Zakouma may be out of the reach of many safari goers but certainly not I would think most of the other places mentioned in this thread and I’ve no doubt there are more places that haven’t come up and that I haven’t been to where you may be able to see roan.

 

Not too many tourists visit Nyika because it’s not a ‘Big five” (or sadly as is often the case these days big four) destination and Malawi isn’t as popular a safari destination as some of its neighbours. However Nyika is not hard to get to, if you’re visiting South Luangwa then it’s only a short hop by air from Mfuwe across to Mzuzu in Malawi and then a very short hop from there up to the Chelinda on the Plateau or you can drive up, the drive from Vwaza Marsh is pretty spectacular. If you’re spending the whole time in Malawi and going to Liwonde NP and Majete GR then it would be quite easy to fly up to the Nyika. It’s well worth the effort not just for the roan and the stunning scenery but in the green season around February time the terrestrial orchids and other wildflowers and there are some good birds to be found in the remaining patches of forest as well as some good grassland species like Denham’s bustard.

 

On my 2004 visit to Nyika I was armed with the original Canon 100-400 IS lens, the image stabiliser proved particularly important for these next photos which were taken from the back of a horse. Not being much of a horseman when I put my camera in the saddlebag before setting off I didn’t have high expectations that I would get any worthwhile photos at all. The horses had evidently be well trained not ever get out of first gear so my steed didn’t prove too unstable a platform for photography.

 

It's hard to think of a more different environment to Zakouma or Ruaha and the other places where I've see these antelopes than this.

 

Roan in the bracken October 2004

 

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The Nyika with its great wide open spaces was an ideal place for horse riding as lions are very rare visitors to the plateau, I was only on a short mornings ride but adventurous safari goers could spend a few days riding and camping on the moorlands. However when Wilderness Safaris took over Chelinda Lodge Nyika Horse Safaris sadly had to pack up and leave so now there are no horses on the Nyika and the only riding available is on a mountain bike.

Edited by inyathi

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Tom Kellie

~ @@inyathi

 

Roan in bracken — Wow!

That's a fascinating image, the likes of which I've never seen.

That the Nyika is akin to moorlands underscores how unfamiliar I am with African geography.

Thank you for adding to @@wilddog's encouragement for eventually observing Roan Antelope.

If that ever occurs, I'll murmur a quiet thanks to both of you!

Tom K.

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inyathi

The roan antelope Hippotragus equinus was probably the most widely distributed of all the large African antelopes, formerly they were found from eastern Gambia, central Senegal and southern Mauretania across the Sudano-Sahel region as far as southern Eritrea southwards through parts of East Africa most of South Central Africa including almost the whole of Angola and then as far south as central South Africa. Although it’s thought that there may have been a small population further south in the Plettenberg Bay area on the Cape Coast until the late 1700s and in the more distant past in 2,000BC roan may have occurred as far north as Egypt.

 

Today their range has been significantly fragmented and they are now extinct in a number of countries, it’s unlikely that any now survive in Mauretania or Gambia they are extinct in Eritrea and Burundi and are probably now extinct in Uganda. Only one small population survives in Kenya in Ruma National Park near Lake Victoria although a single bull was seen in the Mara in 2013. A small remnant population of 37 roan lived on the Ithanga Hills Ranch in Central Kenya with their survival threatened by increasing human encroachment in 1970 they were all captured and moved to the Shimba Hills National Reserve near Mombasa. The reserve which is home to the only population of sable antelopes in Kenya was thought to be a suitable habitat for the roan but unfortunately they did not thrive there the population declined and after a few years they died out. In Mozambique they’re now almost entirely restricted to Tete province in the west of the country and to Limpopo National Park adjoining Kruger.

 

IUCN Map

 

Some years roan also became extinct in Swaziland but in an attempt to restore a population of wild roan to the kingdom the organisation Back to Africa began a reintroduction project, this was started in 2003 with animals donated by Marwell Zoo (now known as Marwell Wildlife) near Winchester in the UK. Originally 6 subspecies of roan were described but this is disputed the genetic evidence according to some suggests that only West African roan are really distinct and the rest all belong to a single group, whether this is actually the case I’m not sure I’ll leave that debate to people with a better understanding of antelope genetics. The animals kept at Marwell Wildlife like many of those in captivity originate from Uganda, since there were no surviving roan in Swaziland and those from Uganda are considered to belong to the same group they were deemed to be suitable animals for reintroduction. The Marwell roan were joined by more from Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic and more recently some bulls were brought in from Percy Fyfe Game Reserve in Limpopo Province one of the major threats to the survival of roan is a tick borne disease called theileriosis and it’s hoped that these bulls will have natural resistance that they can pass on to their offspring. Once a sufficient number of roan have been bred in Swaziland animals will be released into the wild, the aim is to establish free living populations in the Mlilwane and Mkhaya Game Reserves. If this project is entirely successful then it could perhaps pave the way for other roan reintrodcuctions from captivity. Whether antelopes that have been bred in captivity for several generations can be successfully released in areas where there is a healthy population of lions and other large predators is yet to be seen.

 

Back to Africa Roan Antelope Project

 

First release of Roan Antelope into wild conditions in Swaziland

 

I wouldn’t normally choose to include photos of animals in captivity especially when I have so many photos from the wild, having had the good fortune to go in search of wildlife in many parts of the world I don’t visit zoos very often but I have been to Marwell Wildlife a few times. The last time I went there was in 2010 and I took quite a few photos of their roan; relatives of these animals are successfully doing their bit to repopulate the game reserves of Swaziland.

 

Photos of roan antelope calves in Swaziland August 2013

 

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Edited by inyathi

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Tom Kellie

~ @@inyathi

 

Here's a little vote in favor of presenting the Marwell Wildlife Roan Antelope images.

What they've added to my gradually increasing understanding is recognition of the species' relatively massive ears.

Relative to their skulls, and to their faces, the scale of their ears is about as massive as I've ever seen on antelope species.

Is there any other antelope species which features such large ears relative to its head?

Somehow the closeup images brought out the fluffy furriness of their ears, in addition to the large size.

Highly useful to learn about their broad former range. That would seem to suggest that as a taxa, they've been fairly adaptable to various habitats, as opposed to being restricted to an ideal but limited niche.

Again, many thanks for this extended mini-course in Hippotragus equinus, including an exceptional variety of field photography.

Tom K.

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AfricIan

Three locations over the years:

 

1) Linyanti region (nr Kwando Lebala), Botswana. 4 Nov 2007. Nikon D80 & 70-300 VR

 

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2) Ruaha NP, Tanzania. 1 Oct 2014. Nikon D7100 & 70-300 VR. These, whilst not being great images, are a testament to great guiding & an intimate knowledge of the area as these Roan's spend most of their time up on the escarpment & well away from any roadways, only being seen fleetingly when they head down to the river to drink.

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3) Kafue NP (Busanga Plains), Tanzania. 4 Oct 2015. Nikon D7100 & 70-300 VR

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It may totally ignore the "rule of 1/3rds, but I think this image with a lone Roan flanked by the "islands" is very evocative of the Kafue & Busanga Plains in particular

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Peter Connan

I have only seen Roan twice. Once at Nylsvlei, and this one caught in the act on a private game reserve just north of Lesotho.

 

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inyathi

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At Machtour in Zakouma National Park in Chad April 2014

 

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Near Main Camp in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe August 2013

 

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At Dikere in Zakouma National Park in Chad April 2015

 

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Near Main Camp in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe August 2013

 

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At Dikere in Zakouma National Park in Chad April 2015

 

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Busanga Plains Kafue National Park in Zambia October 2004

 

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Nyika National Park in Malawi October 04

 

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Marwell Zoo UK 2010

 

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Nyika National Park in Malawi February 2001

 

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Lebala Kwando Reserve in Botswana November 1999

 

Edited by inyathi

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Bush dog

At Selinda, last month!

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Bush dog

Still in Selinda, last month, a baby roan.

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michael-ibk

Love the Baby ears! :)

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ice

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Ntengu

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Seen in the Kasonso Busanga, North Western Boundary of the Kafue National Park.

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Wild Dogger

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Lebala, Botswana

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optig

@@inyathi your'e so lucky that you've been to Zakouma,Nyika,and of course Kafue. They are all high on my list of places that I have to visit on safari. I will visit Kafue and Nyika in 2018.I'll have to wait to visit Zakouma until 2019. I'll combine it with either the Congo(Brazzaville) or if it's really feasible CAR. Anyways,I'd be delighted with either combination.

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Kitsafari

My first sighting happened in Tswalu, South Africa, May 2016

 

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inyathi

@optig Thanks I hope you do make it to all of those places, I haven’t been back to Nyika since Wilderness took over Chelinda Lodge I’d be very interested to hear what the place is like now. It’s shame Nyika doesn’t get more visitors it’s a stunning place in a very friendly country and really not that far off the beaten track.

 

 

 

 

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Roan herd Nyika NP

 

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Roan at Dikere in Zakouma NP

Edited by inyathi

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