Wild Fact #27 – The Puddle Jumper – Nile Lechwe

Nile Lechwe

Photo by Bodlina (Wikimedia)

Have you ever heard of the Nile Lechwe (pronounced LEECH-WEE or LETCH-WAY)? Well, they are an antelope species found only in Sudan and Ethiopia. Let’s see what else we can learn starting with a few cool facts.

Cool Facts About the Nile Lechwe

  • The hooves of the Nile Lechwe are much longer than most other antelope species. Do you know why? It is an adaptation that allows them to move easily through the water during flood season. Unfortunately, this makes them a little clumsy on land but as the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too (to be fair, I have never understood that saying – why have cake if you can’t eat it?)
  • You don’t often think of antelopes being noisy but apparently it is almost impossible to get this one to be quiet. They have a variety of grunts, snorts and bleats that must make sleeping in the swamplands a little difficult
  • The IUCN has the Nile Lechwe listed as Endangered as their population has decreased by 50% over the last 21 years. If this rate continues, this may be the last time you ever hear of this unique antelope species.

Don’t Forget Your Rain Boots

I am a little curious about the hooves adaptation so let’s explore that a little further, shall we?

As alluded to, the Nile Lechwe lives in an area prone to seasonal flooding. This has lead to this antelope becoming much more amphibious than their close relatives. In fact, the Nile Lechwe is often referred to as the Amphibious Antelope, which you have to admit, has a nice ring to it. As mentioned, the long, slender hooves provide our featured animal with the protection they need from their environment. Think of it as big rubber boots.

Nile LechweThey are perfect for jumping in puddles and splashing around, however, the minute you have to run on dry land, you boots are flopping all over the place and just getting in the way. This is exactly the same for the Nile Lechwe and probably why they tend to stay close to water, typically living in swamps and other wetlands.

Going for the Dunk

Water even plays a role in male dominance. How, you ask? Believe it or not, when two males have a disagreement, they take their fight to the watering hole where they will often lock antlers and begin submerging each other’s heads. This doesn’t sound like a very smart strategy but it seems to work well for these guys so who I am to judge? I guess the winner is the one who doesn’t drown – okay, I am kidding, their fights don’t usually result in drowning deaths, which is actually quite surprising.

 

Animal Facts

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