Scientifically referred as Kobus anselli, the Upemba Lechwe are one of the extraordinary antelope species you will encounter only within the Upemba marshlands, South-east Congo Basin (within Katanga Province) and the Kamalondo depression of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These mammals are one of the few unique wildlife species that will surprise and make you love this extensive Central African Republic country.
They were recently described in 2005 after analysis of over 35 Museum specimens were collected in 1926 and from 1947 to 1948. They were however previously overlooked because of their similarity to the Lechwe K. lechwe, mainly the subspecies of the black lechwe known as K.I.smithemani.
These animals are grazers that consume mainly aquatic and floodplain grass species, which is why they occupy the areas that they are found.
However, some Authorities treat these exceptional mammals as subspecies-K.I.anselli of the lechwe. Upemba lechwe are categorized as critically endangered wildlife species under International Union of Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
These animals have tremendously reduced since the 1970s and this has been attributed to commercial poaching through the 1980s making their population to decline from over 20000 individuals to fewer than 1000 that are estimated today.
The Upemba Lechwe mainly inhabit marshland margins, flooded grassland areas as well as the peripheral light woodlands, thus are said to be terrestrial.
Generally, Katanga region is a biodiversity hotspot within the surrounding Katanga-Chambeshi are that also covers a large part of Zambia as well as eastern Angola. Nonetheless, the secure future of these critically endangered antelopes greatly lies on reducing the tremendous human impact and maintaining the integrity of their marshland habitat.
The major threat to the existence and survival of the Upemba Lechwe is poaching, which has contributed to their tremendous decline/decrease.
In conclusion, the Democratic Republic of Congo is a home to extraordinary wildlife species that you will only encounter in this country, and the Upemba Lechwe are one of them. They can be spotted within the Upemba marshlands, South-east Congo Basin (within Katanga Province) and the Kamalondo depression of the Democratic Republic of Congo.