Rugged and robust animals with conspicuous white rings on rear ends. defassa waterbuck (one of the two sub-species) have a solid white patch on their rump. Only the males carry the long forward-swept horns.
The defassa waterbuck occurs in East, central and West Africa, in a line to the west of the Rift Valley. The common variety of waterbuck occurs from the Horn of Africa, heading south through East Africa into South Africa.
Males are territorial but they do not scent-mark their territories. Numerous female home ranges overlap the territory and a male will attempt to keep passing females in his area when the rutting season begins.
Two subspecies occur, the common waterbuck (K.e. ellipsiprymnus) and the Defassa waterbuck (K.e. defassa). Both subspecies have similar builds. The common waterbuck is grey compared to the defassa which is redish brown.
Common waterbuck also have a conspicuous white ring on their rear ends whereas the defassa have a solid white patch in this rear region. Only the males carry the long forward-swept horns. The two species are known to interbreed.
They are associated with water, living on the floodplains in the vicinity thereof but they are not aquatic animals as the name might suggest.
They are predominantly grazes but will browse when necessary.
Young are born throughout the year after a gestation period of nine months. Breeding can be seasonal in some areas. The mother hides her young for about three weeks, returning three to four times a day to suckle them. After each suckle session she will clean the calf to prevent odour form attracting predators.