Swayne’s Heartbeest


Swayne’s Hartebeest lives in open country, light bush, sometimes in tall savanna woodland. These are social animals and are normally seen in herds of 4 – 15, up to thirty. Each herd is under the leadership of the master bull which leads the females with their young. The territory is defended by the male; you may often see them grazing peacefully, with the bull on slightly higher ground acting as sentinel for his herd.

The small surviving population is now restricted to the grass and thorn scrub plains of southern Rift Valley lakes region, especially the Nechisar National Park has been established for their protection, located in the southern part of Ethiopia 505km from the capital on the shores of the rift valley lakes of Abaya and Chamo, and can easily accessible from Arbaminch. The best known herd is about 100 head which inhabits an area of 400 sq km near the shore of Lake Chamo. However, the largest known population is on the heavily settled plain of Senkela Swayne’s Hartebeest Sanctuary in the Shashemane area 250 km from the capital. Here there are probably about 500 now in excellent condition but less likely to survive because of pressure on habitat. This hartebeest is listed by the IUCN among the species in the world in “imminent danger of extinction” and is completely protected in 1972 by law in Ethiopia wildlife Conservation. Pressure on its habitat by human beings was the main cause of its decline, and it is to hope that with the creation of the national park and rigorous enforcement of the protection law, this beautifully colored antelope will start to recover its numbers.

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