Roan Antelope {Hippotragus equinus}

The Roan Antelope is the largest of all the bovids that are found in Africa

South Africa WildlifeThe Roan Antelope {Hippotragus equinus}

The Roan Antelope is a bovid, which is a term that refers to about 140 species of cloven-hoofed, ruminant animals with single horns (that is, horns that do not branch out).

The Roan Antelope is the largest of all the bovids that are found in Africa. Their name refers to their roan colour, which means that it is a reddish-brown. The bellies are white, as are the cheeks and eyebrows. The rest of the face is black.

This antelope is characterised by a short, bristly mane that stands erect and light-coloured beards. The single horns are ringed, arching slightly to the back. The males have longer horns, which can reach about a metre in length.

Quick Facts


Both male and female Roan Antelope measure about 190 to 240cm in length (excluding the tail, which is an addition 40cm, on average). At shoulder height, the Roan Antelope stands at about 135cm high.


The males of this species weigh between 240 and 300 kg, while females are smaller, at around 225 to 280 kg.


Roan Antelope are found grazing the grassy savannahs, woodlands and shrublands; particularly in tropical and subtropical areas. It is common in both densely and sparsely wooded regions, where vegetation is readily available.


The natural distribution of the Roan Antelope has a natural range through West, Central, East and Southern Africa. It grazes the plains from Senegal and Ethiopia, right down to South Africa.

Diet - Herbivores

Mid-length grasses form the vast majority of the diet of the herbivorous Roan Antelope.


In nature, the Roan Antelopes form herds of between five and 35 females, with one male that is the clear dominant character. The males will often fight one another, using their horns, to attain this dominance. Once established, the victor will be the male responsible for protecting the herd against other males within a radius of about 500 metres.


The Roan Antelope is polygynous, meaning that one male will mate with several females without much discrimination. The female goes into oestrus about two or three weeks after birth and can give birth roughly every 10 months. Females become sexually mature at about two years old, while males usually take an additional year.

During the week or two weeks before birth, the female leaves the herd. Once the calf is born, she will hide the calf away safely and return to the herd, only spending night times with the young one. Her pattern remains this way for about four weeks before the calf is mature enough to join the herd.

Male calves live with a bachelor herd from about three to 10 years of age. At this mature age, they should win dominance in a female herd.


This antelope’s gestation period lasts for between 260 and 280 days.

Life Expectancy

The Roan Antelope lives for about 15 to 17 years in the wild.


In South Africa, Roan Antelope are not under any significant threat of extinction. In the wild, they are threatened mainly by human hunters and the destruction of their habitats. Other predators that occur in the wild include lions, leopards, hyenas, and the African wild dog.


Arkive; IUCN; ADW


Roan Antelope
Conservation Status

  • Least Concern

South Africa's Big Five

Did you know?

The Roan Antelope's single horns are ringed, arching slightly to the back. The males have longer horns which can reach about a metre in length.

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