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Show us your topis and tsessebes...

Game Warden

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Game Warden

Please include when and where taken, tech specs and any other pertinent details...

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The topi and tsessebe used to be considered separate species. Recently, they have been combined to become conspecific (Damaliscus lunatus).


Subspecies (or races) of Damaliscus lunatus are:


D.l. Jimela - "Topi" found in the Serengeti/Mara area… the best-known race. Also widespread in western Tanzania (Katavi National Park, for instance) and Ruma National Park in Kenya.


D.l. topi - "Coastal topi" found on the coastal region of Kenya, especially the Tana Delta area. Very little morphological difference from D.l. Jimela, though geographically separated.


D.l. korrigum - "Korrigum" found in Senegal, Chad, Cameroon and Central African Republic. The largest in body size and horns of all the races.


D.l. tiang - "Tiang" found in Sudan, Ethiopia, northeastern Uganda and northwestern Kenya (around Lake Turkana). Best described as an intermediate form between between topi and korrigum.


D.l. lunatus - "Tsessebe" found in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and southwestern Zambia. Along with D.l.superstes below, the most morphologically distinctive race. The purplish iridescent sheen not as prominent. Horns, viewed from the front, are crescent-shaped and "weakest" of the races.


D.l. superstes - "Bangweulu tsessebe" only found in the Bangweulu Wetlands, Zambia. Only recently declared a separate race (used to be part of D.l. lunatus). Morphologically very similar to D.l. lunatus.


Topi/tsessebe are sedentary, requiring green grass and water throughout the year. Naturally, they are found close to water. Moderate droughts can help them, as receding water exposes green grass. They suffer under extreme droughts and extreme floods (big floods can eliminate grazing). When conditions are ideal, they are extremely fecund. When conditions are poor, they don't even bother to breed. It is these traits that likely account for the fact that there are so many isolated populations (and races)… as populations can be wiped out locally during bad times.




D.l jimela - "Topi". A classic topi pose on a termite mound (Masai Mara, Kenya, Jan 2010).




D.l. jimela - "Topi". A male showing off to females in a lek (Masai Mara, Kenya, Jan 2010).




D.l. jimela - "Topi". These ones in western Tanzania away from Serengeti/Mara tend to be slightly darker, though of the same jimela race (Ugalla Game Reserve, Tanzania, Sep 2006).




D.l topi - "Coastal topi". Though this coastal topi appears to be darker, it may just be the lighting conditions. I found the coastal topi to be morphologically similar to the regular topi, D.l. jimela (Ishaqbini, Kenya, Jul 2011).




D.l topi - "Coastal topi". This is a coastal topi who is seriously lost. There is a tiny population in Tsavo East, Kenya. These likely originated from the coastal areas and followed the Galana River and the artificial waterholes to end up in the middle of Tsavo East (Tsavo East, Kenya, Jul 2011).




D.l lunatus - "Tsessebe". It has "weaker" horns and less of a iridescent purple sheen. Note the different horn shape from that of the topi (Savuti area of Chobe, Botswana, Mar 2011).




D.l lunatus - "Tsessebe". Tsessebes form smaller groups than topis, probably due to the fact that tsessebes inhabit areas marginal to the species (Kwara, Botswana, Sep 2011).




D.l. superstes - "Bangweulu tsessebe". Perhaps slightly darker and with bigger horns than the regular tsessebe, D.l. lunatus (Bangweulu Wetlands, Zambia, Sep 2013).

Edited by Safaridude
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Game Warden

Fantastic visual overview @@Safaridude - thank you. Who can add their topi pics? Let's see some classic "standing on a termite mound" pics...

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Masai Mara, September 2005



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  • 9 months later...

Korrigum (D.l korrigum) from Pendjari National Park, Benin:







Edited by Safaridude
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The actual boundary between the korrigum Damaliscus lunatus korrigum of West Africa and the tiang Damaliscus lunatus tiang is almost certainly the Chari River in western Chad so Chad has both subspecies. Animals west of the river living around Lake Chad are korrigum and those east of the river are tiang which would formerly have been found throughout most of southern Chad.


Tiang are common in Zakouma NP



Herd of tiang in Zakouma NP from the air



Tiang at Rigueik in Zakouma NP







Lelwel hartebeest & tiang nr Rigueik



Tiang at Maniam in Zakouma NP


Tiang and cattle egrets at Maniam


Tiang calves at Maniam


Tiang & lelwel hartebeest at Maniam

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Finally, I found one in the Mara (on a very small mound!)


Feb. 2015 Massia Maa








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  • 4 months later...


~ @@Treepol


That's quite a remarkable photograph!

There's a lot going on there.

I like how you composed so as to include so much.

Tom K.

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