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Show us your roan...

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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, that 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











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.

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~ @@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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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 2,000 BC 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 The Gambia they are extinct in Eritrea and Burundi and are possibly 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.




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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~ @@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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Three locations over the years:


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




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.



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


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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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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At Machtour in Zakouma National Park in Chad April 2014



Near Main Camp in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe August 2013



At Dikere in Zakouma National Park in Chad April 2015



Near Main Camp in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe August 2013



At Dikere in Zakouma National Park in Chad April 2015




Busanga Plains Kafue National Park in Zambia October 2004



Nyika National Park in Malawi October 04



Marwell Zoo UK 2010



Nyika National Park in Malawi February 2001



Lebala Kwando Reserve in Botswana November 1999


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  • 1 month later...

Still in Selinda, last month, a baby roan.


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Love the Baby ears! :)

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  • 6 months later...


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

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  • 1 month later...

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






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@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.



Roan herd Nyika NP



Roan at Dikere in Zakouma NP

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  • 7 years later...

Inspired by the recent Hwange Sable montages, that I created and added to the Show us your Sable topic, I decided to go back through the Roan photos, I took on the same safari in Hwange, I noticed two overlapping shots that I had taken of a herd drinking at a waterhole near Main Camp, I probably didn’t take them intending to stitch them, because I took the right-hand shot first, I do occasionally do that, with a purely landscape panorama, but not often as when the photos are on your PC and you are going through them, they appear back to front, and it is only two photos, I do sometimes just take two shots for a panorama, but normally I would take more than that. I don’t recall ever having stitched them together before. After created the new panorama, from those two photos, I noticed further on, I had a third shot of the same scene, that almost exactly matched the second of the two earlier shots, the Roan had moved around a bit, but the background was the same in both shots, meaning I could create a second version of the panorama. I decided that I preferred the second version




Having discovered to my surprise, that I can stitch photos, taken at entirely different focal lengths, I then started playing around with some of the other photos, taken at this waterhole, creating a montage, and decided to see how many Roans, I could get into the image, by combining 6 shots, I was able to get to 30 Roans. Actually, it was 30 and a half, one of the hazards of stitching photos, is that you can sometimes end up with half an animal or just bits of animals, you have to scroll across your image quite carefully, to ensure you spot and remove all such mistakes. Also in order to put together this image, I had to create some of the background, as there were significant areas missing, because I was adding shots, where I had zoomed in on the animals and so they didn't have any of the woodland in the background, I don’t think, what I have added in looks too unconvincing, at least if you don’t look at it too closely.




Creating this montage, does mean, that I am now, not sure how many Roans, there actually were at the waterhole, I didn't record the number at the time and this safari was almost 11 years ago, so I don’t how many animals may appear twice in the montage, I know that the second version of the panorama, I created, shown at the top, has 21 animals in it and after examining the original photos and how they have been joined, I can see that they are all different animals, the montage is about a third longer, than those panoramas, as you can see, I have added sections of the waterhole to the left and the right, the two photos that make up the second version of the panorama were taken almost 2 minutes apart and the photo of the Roans drinking on the far left of the montage, was taken in between, those two shots, so those Roans could have finished drinking and moved off, thus I can’t be certain that they aren’t some of the Roans, on the left of the panorama at the top of this post and in the middle of the montage. I would assume that the two on the far right may have been there all along, but I don't know for sure, I don't have photos of the left hand and right hand ends of the waterhole, taken at almost the same time as the photos of the mid-section, if this was a conventional panorama, as most of my wildlife panoramas are, it would be made up of a series of overlapping shots, starting from the left hand end and moving right, all taken consecutively one after the other, likely in the space of a minute or so, when it is an animal panorama, I don't take too much time, to ensure the animals don't move too much. Therefore while I don’t think there really could have been 30 Roans, as seen in this montage, there may well have been around 24 or 25.


Since my objective was to combine as many Roans together in one image, I then realised I could create a second version of the montage and take the number of Roans up to 34, I can be certain in this case, that the extra 4 animals are ones, that were already in the picture, so I’d still put the number of different Roans at around 24-25  




I think I prefer the first montage, but I do like to create different versions of panoramas and montages, if the photos I have will permit me to do that, as in this case. Having an exact figure for the number of Roans, doesn’t really matter, I was just interested in trying to work out a rough number, because when I was thinking about, where I have seen the largest herds of Roan, my immediate thought was Nyika NP and Zakouma NP, forgetting about Hwange, I’d remembered that I had seen a herd drinking at a waterhole, as we were leaving Hwange, but not that it was such a large herd. Probably because I have never stitched any of these photos before and just remembered, the more zoomed in shots of a few drinking Roans.    


I create almost all my panoramas now, using some great free software from Microsoft, called Image Composite Editor (ICE), but sadly I’m not sure it is available anymore, it does a pretty faultless job of working out how to join photos and a good job filling in the missing bits, if the area isn’t too big, if it is just part of a clear sky that was missing, you won't see where it has filled it in. With parts of the foreground, I may need to do a bit a bit of tidying up where it has filled in, using Photoshop, so it doesn't look obvious. Whilst ICE is brilliant and far the quickest and easiest way to create a stitched panorama, if I’ve taken photos for a panorama and not messed any of them up, it normally has no trouble stitching them, it doesn’t work 100% of the time, with everything I want to stitch, usually if it won’t join two photos, that I know overlap, at least a little bit, and should therefore stitch together, I will then use Photoshop, as it will often work when ICE doesn’t. I only have the basic Photoshop Elements and it certainly can’t cope with extra-long panorama, I do quite often have a few pretty long and even very panoramas and Photoshop generally won’t even open them, I don’t know if a better version would, or if it is something to do with my PC, this is another reason why I use ICE, as it can handle very long panoramas. The problem is, sometimes I have a very long panorama, that I need to tidy up in Photoshop, but it won’t open the file, then I usually end up cutting it up, into short enough sections that Photoshop can cope with, so I can tidy those up and stitch them back together with ICE and hope that achieves the desired result, a bit of a waste of time, but it gets around the problem. I was amazed to discover that both Photoshop and ICE, will stitch photos taken at different focal lengths, even when the difference is quite significant. I used a combination of both to create this montage. One thing you can’t do with ICE, as far as I can see, is adjust how it blends the photos, you can’t decide which of two photos you want on top, so you can find that an animal you wanted in the picture is missing, covered over by the other photo, but this can be quite easily rectified by Photoshopping it back in. I am amazed by the result; I never would have believed that I could create such an image, that would look as good as it does, sure if you zoom in enough, you will find faults, that make it obvious, that the photo is a composite of different images and not a perfectly stitched panorama, but then I'm not trying to win prizes with it, it's just a bit of fun.




The image above could perhaps be considered a montage, as the photo of the calf, was taken almost a minute earlier, than the shot of the drinking Roan, and the calf's shadow is not in that shot, I think it probably just took a quick drink and then moved away, so I think it is a different calf to the one that is drinking, as a shot of these same Roans, that I posted back on page one, has two calves drinking, so it could perhaps be the other calf in that shot, as that shot was taken immediately after the shot with calf, that I used for the right-hand end of this panorama.


These next two are what I would consider straight panoramas, the first is created from two consecutive shots taken seconds apart and then I added a third shot to extend it and create the second panorama, so the Roan in these two images are definitely all different animals. 






The two photos that make up the first image, only overlapped very slightly, I had to use Photoshop to join them as ICE couldn't, the third shot that I added to create the second image, didn't in fact overlap at all, it was a case of very nearly, but not quite, there was a very narrow strip, missing between the two photos, so using Photoshop, I had to join the third photo manually to the first image, by positioning it as close as possible and then look for another photo, from which I could create a patch of the strip that was missing, to cover the narrow gap and then try and make sure that there were no visible joins, it's not absolutely perfect, but good enough for me. It is also quite satisfying to join together two photos, that almost join but not quite, as long as they're not photos, that you actually took as part of a series, for a panorama and somehow completely failed to overlap them, then it is just very annoying, especially with a long panorama, as I have done that once or twice. 

Edited by inyathi
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In my first post, I said that Roan Antelopes, may possibly be extinct in Uganda, I was wrong, they are not, a small number still exist in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve. I also mentioned, the reintroduction of Roan to Eswatini, from Marwell Zoo in the UK and Dvur Kralove Zoo in Czechia, with the addition of some bulls, brought in from Percy Fyfe Game Reserve in SA. The Roan were being captive bred at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, for reintroduction into the wild, the most up to date news I’ve found, suggests there are now over 50, but I don’t know how many have been released into the wild, in Mlilwane and Mkhaya Game Reserves. Initially calf mortality was high, as a result of disease, the introduction of local bulls, as intended helped introduce a degree of immunity to the tick-borne disease theileriosis, that is a real problem for Roan. The project indicates, that captive Roan Antelopes obtained from zoos, can’t just be acclimatised and then released straight into the wild, the animals need to be brought to Africa to establish an in-situ captive breeding programme and then bred for several generations, before releases into the wild can be considered, to ensure they have built up some disease resistance.


In Kenya Roan were on the brink of extinction, reduced to a low of 12, in their last home Ruma  NP, after the construction of a fenced predator free sanctuary, the number had grown to 25. I haven’t been able to find the most up to date news, in 2021 it was reported, that Kenya had struck a deal with Tanzania, to exchange 2 female Black Rhinos for 20 Roan. Apparently, the Roan were or would be captured in the Rungwa Game Reserve (adjoining Ruaha NP) and the rhinos would go to the Serengeti. I’ve not found an update on whether Ruma received the Roan and the rhinos went to the Serengeti, the pandemic may have disrupted things. If the TZ Roan have been introduced to Ruma, that should make a big difference, addressing serious concerns about inbreeding. If the sanctuary in Ruma can breed enough Roan, besides repopulating the park, other sites in Kenya could be found, where there would once have been Roan.


Another breeding sanctuary could be created somewhere in the Mara, as Roan once occurred there. Bringing in zoo Roan was also considered, the SA organisation Back to Africa, who were responsible for returning the Roan to Eswatini, were invited to Ruma, to look at this possibility. One article I read, mentioned the idea of establishing a captive breeding herd at Ol Pejeta, I think taking zoo Roan to Ol Pejeta, could be a good idea, then when there are enough Roan in Ruma, a few could be moved to Ol Pejeta, to be mixed with the zoo Roan. If a captive breeding herd were established there, it could potentially supply animals for reintroductions to Lake Mburo and Kidepo NPs in Uganda, which would be good, as Pian Upe WR, does not have enough to remove animals from there.


Of course, if the captive breeding herd at Mlilwane is maintained, then when all the parks in Eswatini have been restocked, Roan could perhaps be exported from there to Kenya or even Uganda, the Marwell Zoo Roan as stated before are of Ugandan origin. The Roan taken to Mlilwane, were genetically tested to confirm their origins and ensure that they were suitable,. It would make sense to use Roan from Mlilwane for other reintroductions, as they have already adapted to life in Africa, so could just be released straight into the wild. Unfortunately at various times Roan from West Africa. have been imported into South Africa, before it was decided that mixing subspecies was undesirable, anyone obtaining Roan from SA, for reintroductions in other countries, would likely need to test their genetics, just to be certain, they are purebred and not hybrids.


The book A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania, states that Katavi is the best place to look for Roan and in the national park section, the mammals list for Katavi indicates that Roan are common, whereas for Ruaha they are shown as uncommon. It also lists them as rare in the Serengeti, vagrant in the NCA and extinct in Gombe and Tarangire NPs. Under where to look, it says 




Katavi NP provides the best opportunities for seeing Roan Antelopes in Tanzania . Good places to try are around the Katuma River where it leaves the Katisunga floodplain, and the series of springs between there and the Ikuu Ranger Post, where they drink from mid morning to early afternoon during the dry season  The Ngolima floodplain is also worth a try. 


In Ruaha NP small herds can be seen in the Lunda area in the eastern corner of the national park in the vicinity of Malindi Springs and on the road between the national park entrance and Msembe. Two or more days of searching may be necessary to encounter this species. 



The book dates from 2014, Ruaha was extended in 2008, I don’t know what if any difference this has made to how common Roan are in Ruaha, and whether the book takes account of this. The new area of the park principally consisting of the former Usangu Game Reserve, had not really been opened up to tourism, only a handful of safari goers ventured into this part of the park, so I doubt there is very much information on Roan in the area. I visited this part of Ruaha in 2009 and 2018, on my last visit, I saw a very distant herd of Roan, the other side of an open floodplain known as Ilambakitari Mbuga, too distant for photos, that was the last time I saw Roan in Ruaha, I didn’t see any on my 2009 visit. 



Ilambakitari Mbuga 


The south of Ruaha is now starting to be opened up for tourism, so perhaps more people might see Roan in.Ruaha in these areas. The book also predates the creation of Tanzania’s five newest national parks, Burigi-Chato, Ibanda-Kyerwa, Kigosi, Rumanyika-Karagwe and Ugalla River, obviously these parks aren’t included in the national parks section, and whilst the distribution of various species, mentions the former game reserves that became these parks, they don’t come up under where to look, as they were largely hunting areas, not places that photo tourists would visit. What the book says regarding Roan distribution, suggests Roan occur in all these new parks, though only in small numbers in B-CNP, I-KNP, and R-KNP,  I’m not sure about Kigosi, @Safaridude's photos of Roan in Ugalla River, suggests it might be a good place to see Roan. Finding out exactly what wildlife is in these parks is not easy, look up Burigi-Chato NP online and bizarrely, various websites, give a wildlife list, that includes chimpanzees and gorillas, the park of course, has neither. I've always thought it would be great if Tanzania did have gorillas, because then the country would have just about everything, the safari goer could want to see, it does surprise me that anyone would think that B-CNP has gorillas, when there certainly isn't any rainforest in the park. Chimps might be more believable but the park definitely doesn't have them. Ugalla River actually does have chimps and remarkably is the least forested area, in the Eastern Chimpanzee’s distribution. 


Tanzania is not the best country to see Roan, sightings in Katavi aren’t guaranteed, but if perhaps Ugalla River or even Kigosi proves to be a better place to see Roan, maybe Tanzania could in future become a good option for seeing them, once these parks have opened up to tourism a bit more. I suspect even with much better protection, now that they are parks, Roan in B-CNP, I-KNP, and R-KNP might not increase enough, for those parks to become, reliable places to see them. Roan are still not that common in neighbouring Akagera NP, despite African Parks taking on Akagera in 2010. It may be that Akagera, lost a lot of prime Roan habitat, when the northern section of the park was degazetted, after the civil war ended. 


On my last visit to Katavi, exploring remote areas of the park, I was very lucky to have a beautiful view of a small herd of Roan, somewhere near the Rungwa River, in the far south of the park. Later staying at Fox’s Wildlife Camp, that is on the edge of Katisunga Mbuga, where the Katuma River drains the mbuga, one of the best locations for Roan, I didn’t see any Roan at all, but I have seen Roan in that area before, many years ago before Fox’s camp was there. Perhaps if we had asked to specifically look for Roan, we might have found some, but having had such a great view a few days before, we didn’t need to pursue Roan.


On 2/18/2016 at 6:35 PM, inyathi said:

I’ve also seen them mixed in with a zebras and topis on the floodplain at Katisunga, but the photos I’ve got are not that great, because of the heat haze and probably because I don’t have the best slide scanner.


How time flies, I now do have a better slide scanner, so I decided to post the shot, it is better than the older version, but still not the best shot.




Scanned slide, Plains Zebras, Topis and Roan on Katisunga Mbuga


Frequently going through my photos, I find overlapping shots that I can stitch together, if I haven't joined them together before, it is likely because I didn't take them intending to join them, that is very obviously the case with my old slides, yet when I go through my scanned slides, I do find shots that happen to overlap, I guess I spotted this next panorama, after I first posted to this topic, as I've already posted the right-hand of the two shots, that make up this image. Not the very best shot, as it was extremely hot and there was plenty of heat haze, but I like being able to stitch scanned slides, as it is often just chance, that I took shots that overlap.   



Roan, Katavi


When we chanced upon these Roan, on my last visit to Katavi somewhere near the Rungwa River, in the far south of the park, I didn't expect to get much better views, than in these first few photos 










Getting unobstructed views of them through the trees, was a bit of a challenge, we had to venture off road a bit to try and get closer, but then they started to run




I thought that might be the last I would see of them, but they didn't run too far and fortunately stopped somewhere, where I was able to get a very good view and take plenty of photos, it was not a completely unobstructed view, but the evening light was beautiful and made it perhaps the best view, I have had of Roan in Tanzania, watching them I saw the opportunity to create some Roan panoramas








The great thing, is that I took loads of photos, I've got 34 shots of the Roan, from after they had stopped running, this meant, because of how the animals were spaced out in the photos, I could choose lots of different combinations, to create multiple panoramas from the photos. 












The number of Roan in these panoramas varies, there is one with four, two with five one with six and three with seven, I really like the long ones with seven, but looking through all my shots, I can see that in reality, there can only have been five, I took the photos intending to create panoramas, however, the scene was such, that instead of taking a shot and then panning a bit and taking the next one and so on, I could take multiple shots, before panning, I have ten shots of the two Roan on the left, I've used four different ones, so although they look much the same in first three long panoramas, you can see that they are very slightly different. So while, I was intending to create panoramas from my shots, I didn't take them in the way that I normally would for a panorama, this meant that by the time I was taking the shots, that make up the right-hand side of these panoramas, the two Roan on the left would have moved over to the right, so I presume are amongst the animals on the right. Taking the photos this way, did mean I could create multiple panoramas and I'm sure I could still create more variations, if I wanted to.


The only problem I had, is that the join between the two Roan on the left and the others, was on the right hand side of that multi-stemmed tree or bush, and for some reason, none of the stitching software I was using, would join the photos, even though they clearly overlap. I do have a third photo-stitching programme, that I almost never use now, called Panorama Maker 5, very occasionally I do still use it, for rare occasions when ICE or Photoshop won't cooperate, it allows you, to manually choose how you want it to join the photos, because when you tell it to join them, it sometimes gets it wrong and you need to correct it and it also allows you to adjust the blend, useful if it has given you only half of an animal, or covered one over entirely, you might be able to uncover enough to correct it. If there is a particular point in a panorama, where two photos won't join for some reason, I'll use it, and manually join those two shots and if that works, I'll then crop the ends off that image, reducing it to the width of a normal photo, ensuring the join is in the centre, I can then use it as an extra photo, to add into the sequence, when I use ICE to create the panorama, hopefully solving the problem. ICE doesn't in my experience make mistakes joining photos, probably because, if it decides that two photos can’t be joined, it simply refuses to join them, it determines how the photos should be arranged, if it decides one photo in a batch won’t join, it will just join the others and reject that one and any shots that come after it. Whereas Panorama Maker 5 will happily try and join any photos you give it, even when they obviously won't join. Because ICE wouldn’t join the bush together, even though I thought there was enough overlap,  I had to do it manually and then try and blend the images together in Photoshop, I didn’t do the best job with one of those panoramas, so I may need to work on that one a bit more.


I’m not sure what the cause of the Roan’s extinction in Tarangire is, they were last seen in 1960, so I don’t know if reintroduction to the park, is something TANAPA should be considering. Whilst rare in Serengeti, small numbers exist in neighbouring Maswa Game Reserve and in the Grumeti Reserve, but numbers there obviously aren’t growing enough, for them to spread back in to the park, potentially if Kenya were to reintroduce them in the Mara, I suppose if successful enough, they could eventually spread over the border into the northern Serengeti. 

Edited by inyathi
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Zakouma always in my experience delivers Roan sightings, I’m sure it is possible to visit the park and not see Roan, but unless you are only there for a very short time, you would have to be very unlucky not to see some. On my last visit, I was getting slightly worried, when we were approaching the end of our first morning’s game-drive and we hadn’t seen a single one, of course, I needn’t have worried, as we soon spotted a magnificent dark bull, on the way back to the lodge.




I don't think Roan bulls, on Eastern or Southern Africa ever get as dark as those in Central and West Africa, these next Roan seen on foot, illustrate to me how different these Roan look, when compared to the Katavi Roan in my last post












Just a small herd, but typical Zakouma






By the end, I’d seen the largest herds of Roan, that I’ve seen anywhere, bigger than any herds that I recall having seen in Nyika NP in Malawi, a photo of a herd Roan in the Nyika landscape posted above has 18 Roans in it, and another zoomed out shot of the same scene, has I think 22 Roans in it, it is hard to tell as it is a scanned slide and the quality isn't great so you can't zoom in on the image that much, so there could be one or two more, since I suggested that were 24-25 at the waterhole in Hwange, then that's only slightly more than the herd in Nyika. This next panorama has 23 different Roan in it, but it only shows part of this herd 




Whereas those Roan panoramas from Katavi, are really montages, because I turned five Roan Antelopes into seven, all the panoramas I took in Zakouma are straight panoramas not montages, for this next longer one of the same Roans near Tinga, I took all of the photos within the same minute, so they are just seconds apart, I know that they are all different individuals, where the animals are clumped together, it is hard to count them, as it is difficult to see where one animal begins and another ends, I tried the old technique of counting the legs and dividing by four :lol:, but counting the legs isn't much easier, however, counting the animals in the panorama and then counting the animals in the original photos, in both cases gives me a total of 42, I'm therefore pretty confident, that that is the actual number that were there, certainly no fewer than that, but I can't guarantee that there couldn't be one more, hidden from view behind other animals. That is just the number that I photographed and managed to get in one panorama, there might have been one or two more.



The largest herd of Roan I've ever seen


Since the photos overlap, then you do have to be careful that you are not counting the same animals twice, when counting them in the original photos, and it is possible that the ICE could have blended the photos in such a way as to have removed one or two animals, the fact that the numbers matched, told me that was not the case. When you create a panorama with ICE, when you save it, for the default file name, it just adds _stitch to the file name of the first photo in the sequence, so if you just save it in the same folder as those photos, it will appear in amongst them, you can then clearly see if you have stitched the photos, so I was surprised to see, going back through my photos, five overlapping shots, that I appeared not to have stitched. Two of the photos were almost the same, so I only needed to stitch four shots, when I stitched them, because the Roan had moved, it stitched two animals together, and then when I used the other of the two photos that are almost the same, that version just had the head of one animal, so you have to check the image carefully, so possibly it could cut out an animal entirely. I then created the panorama using Photoshop, so it's a new panorama, from it and the original photos, I think it has 30 Roans in it, but that is a bit of a guesstimate, looking at legs, horns and ears, I'm sure there is at least one Roan that is barely visible behind the others, there could well be another hidden one, but it is too hard to be certain. Of course, it is another view of the same herd, by the time I took the shots for this panorama, the Roan on the left of the longer version, had I assume wandered out of view.





A different herd at Mare Fategoki, hard to tell how many there are, I counted 37, but think there could easily have been 40+


I think the size of the herds, I saw on this last Zakouma safari, for me nudges Zakouma into first place, as the park to see Roans, but for those not sure they want to visit Chad, Busanga Plains in Kafue NP in Zambia, Nyika NP in Malawi and Hwange in Zimbabwe are still great places for Roan, and I've also seen a few in northern Botswana. 


In his book Bovids of the World, Jose R. Castello only recognises two forms of Roan, the Western found from Senegal to Ethiopia and the Southern found from eastern Uganda to South Africa, at least that is what the maps show, someone forgot to proofread the text, as the distribution for the Southern Roan, states, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, etc, essentially the distribution for the entire species.  Previously six subspecies were identified by Ansell in 1972, but genetic evidence does not appear to support these subspecies, only one the Western Roan Hippotragus equinus koba is a genetically distinct population, from other Roans and it lives from Senegal to Benin. So Roan from Nigeria eastwards across the Sudano-Sahel region, are then not Western Roan. According to Ansell’s taxonomy Roan in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and CAR, are H. e. charicus, Mammals of Africa states that there is no discernible difference between charicus and koba. Unfortunately, when I visited Mole NP in Ghana, we weren’t able to find any Roan, so I’ve not seen H. e. koba, except in photos, so I can’t personally say if they really look just the same as Zakouma’s Roan, but they look similar in photos. The book also says that charicus doesn’t belong to an eastern or southern clade, but that there isn’t strong support for the creation of a central clade, I don’t know why not. This suggests that the taxonomy of the Roan is still not entirely resolved. In Bovids of the World, the distribution given for the Western Roan, (that he didn’t mess up), includes Uganda, if I understand correctly, the book is indicating, that Roan in the north of Uganda are Western Roan and those in southern Uganda Eastern Roan, but a map of Roan subspecies I found in an old science paper, on Roan genetics shows the East African subspecies H. e. langheldi throughout Uganda and just over the border into South Sudan, where it is then replaced by H. e. bakeri, whereas another map shows H. e. bakeri extending right down into Uganda. This is interesting as it raises the question as to whether the extinct Roan in Kidepo NP, were the same as those further south in East Africa or the same as those further north in South Sudan, not that it necessarily matters from the point of view of reintroducing Roan. African Parks have expressed an interest in taking on Kidepo, but I don’t know more than that, so I’ve no idea if there is any chance that they will secure Kidepo, but if they do, they could translocate Roan from Boma and Badingilo, assuming they have good numbers in those parks. It is possible that AP could persuade Uganda to let them co-manage kidepo, as I’ve just read that the Kenya based NGO Space for Giants, has secured a co-management agreement for Pian Upe WR and an adjoining reserve, this is I believe is the first such agreement in Uganda, and the first Space for Giants has signed, I hope this is great news for Pian Upe and its Roan. 


There aren’t enough Roan in Pian Upe, to consider moving any from there to Kidepo, the news that Space for Giants will be co-managing Pian Upe, has given me, what I think is a great idea. UWA is looking for the ideal protected area to establish their first Black Rhino sanctuary, that could well be Pian Upe, Space for Giants are one of the founders of the Loisaba Conservancy in Kenya and Black Rhinos have just been reintroduced there, I’m sure a long term aim for them, would be to restore rhinos to Pian Upe, this would mean building a fenced sanctuary, so if a rhino sanctuary is built, the surviving Roan could be captured and moved into the sanctuary as well. It could then double as a breeding sanctuary for Roan, there isn’t a resident lion population in the reserve at present, so predation might not be a big issue for Roan, I don't know how much poaching is going on there, but putting them in a sanctuary could still help grow their numbers, and at some point, they will presumably want to have lions back, either through natural recolonisation or reintroduction, so putting the Roan in a fenced sanctuary, would ensure they are not threatened if lions do return. If they did establish a breeding sanctuary for Roan, I think it would be good to send a few zoo Roan there, to add genetic diversity. Add in a few Bright’s Gazelles to boost their numbers too perhaps. It might not be for a long time, but they could export rhinos, gazelles and Roan to Kidepo and rhinos and Roan to Lake Mburo NP. Of course, Uganda doesn’t have any Black Rhinos at present and they would need 20 EBRs for their sanctuary, I doubt Kenya would be willing to supply that number, but they might be persuaded to provide a couple and the rest could come from Thaba Tholo Ranch in SA and perhaps some from zoos, to get the number to 20. I've no idea if they will do this, but Sera Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya doubles as a breeding sanctuary for Beisa Oryx. so the idea makes obvious sense to me and they should be aware that the Roan in Pian Upe are the last in Uganda. Recently UWA and GCF reintroduced Nubian Giraffes to Pian Upe, I think the reserve could be great place to visit.   

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Pictus Safaris
7 hours ago, inyathi said:

think the size of the herds, I saw on this last Zakouma safari, for me nudges Zakouma into first place, as the park to see Roans, but for those not sure they want to visit Chad, Busanga Plains in Kafue NP in Zambia, Nyika NP in Malawi and Hwange in Zimbabwe are still great places for Roan, and I've also seen a few in northern Botswana.


I think you'd have to look further west @inyathi, for the best park to see roan. They remain abundant in many savanna parks in West Africa, including Niokolo-Koba, Pendjari, WAP, Comoe etc.

Edited by Pictus Safaris
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@inyathi- you've got me fossicking around in old photo albums as I've always seen Roan at Nanzhila Plains Kafue but only in small groups and not in the large herds referred to above.











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