Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Topi, an African Antelope

Topi are interesting looking antelope found in Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, South Africa and Chad. They are taller at the shoulder than at the hip, with dark faces, dark shoulders and a dark patch on their hips. The babies are all tan.

Male topi like to climb to the top of termite hills to look around and keep watch on the surrounding plains. You can sometimes see a row of topi stretching far into the horizon, each a few feet apart on a termite mound, some facing each way. The photo to the left shows three topi on mounds, with a few in the surrounding field, and was taken in the Masai Mara in southern Kenya.

The photo to the right is a small herd of females with youngsters. Males generally hold territories and females are usually found in small groups with babies. However, thousands may migrate together during annual migrations.

Topi are known for speed, but their distinctive mound-sentry position is also notable. Their eyes are like goat eyes. Females have developed the ability to delay labor if they sense danger is present. Topi rub their horns on the ground and will use their hooves to spread mud on themselves. They eat only grass, and if the grass is dry, they need daily access to water, though if the grass is green they can go without drinking water for some time.

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