You are probably wondering what on earth the Puku could be. These are antelope species that are limited to few African countries, one of which is the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Scientifically known as Kobus vardonii, Puku are medium-sized antelopes that mainly inhabit wet grasslands of Zambia, southern Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Namibia. However, almost one-third of their populations are found within Protected Areas that include National Parks and Zoos due to their threatened habitat ranges.
They occupy swampy grasslands and dambos of the Kilombero valley of Tanzania where they mainly consume grasses, and are said to be active during early mornings as well as late afternoons.
Their average height is about 80 centimeters (31 inches) at their shoulders, while their tails measure around 30 centimeters and weigh averagely 70 to 80 kilograms (150 to 180 pounds). These antelopes are characterized by their sandy-brown coat color with the underbelly being slightly light-brown in color. Surprisingly, their coats are rougher than those of the similar-sized Southern reedbucks, impalas as well as the lechwe or even the smaller oribis.
The male Puku normally have 50 centimeters long ridge-structured horns that are usually vaguely lyre-shaped. Their gestation period is 250 days, reach sexual maturity at 13 months and wean at about 6 months.
When frightened, the Puku repeat a shrill whistle-sound while the females gather in herds of up to 10 members. When you encounter these antelopes, you will notice that during the rainy season, numerous herds gather together for extra safety comprising of up to 50 females.
The lifespan of the Puku is 18 years just like the Kobs and are near threatened under IUCN’s Red List.
The males always tend to keep territories and try their best to persuade herds of females to remain within their territories for as long as possible. The territorial males paint the base of their necks with secretions from pre-orbital glands found in front of their eyes thus resulting in the greasy and darkened patches that are very common from May to November. Due to the heavy floods experienced within their habitats in the wet seasons, these antelopes tend to migrate to areas of higher elevations while again remain close to water points during the dry season.
The Pukus are said to be closely related to the Kobs (Kobus kob) but can be distinguished by their smaller size (former) with stouter horns and greatly unmarked feet because the Kobs generally have black lines along the front surface of their front legs.
Just like most antelopes, they exhibit sexual dimorphism with the males being larger than their female counterparts and have considerably thicker and more muscular necks. Their coarse coats are golden in color with pale underparts and generally lack distinctive markings on their faces and legs much as there are indistinct whitish rings around each eye.