For the last two days, we have been treated to a rare sighting of a Roan antelope in the Mara. The antelope, a male, was first sighted near Roan hill to the south of the reserve, just North of sand river. Now the hill named after this antelope has once again reclaimed its name!
The antelope moved from the area where it was first sighted northwards into the central plains, then Burrungat, thereafter crossed the Talek River north, where he settle among the Topi. However, I think he may not stay here long since the place is a high use zone. Many people also are coming to this area to see the rare animal, therefore might create a disturbance, causing it to leave the area.
Roan antelopes used to occur in the Mara until the early 90s (1993 to be precise, according to Brian Heath, the CEO Mara conservancy) when the last one was sighted on the Oloololo escarpment. They used to be found here but since they used to move outside the reserve, they became highly susceptible to poaching. Remaining Roan Antelope in South and western Kenya, are to be found in Ruma National park, near Lake Victoria. Most believe that these animals used to migrate into the Mara at some point when there was an open corridor, which has sadly been closed due to human habitation. I think even the one now in the Mara, may have strayed from there, ended up in Northern Serengeti and now in the Mara.
The Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) it is one of the largest species of antelope. They measure 190–240 cm (75–94 in) from the head to the base of tail and the tail measures 37–48 cm (15–19 in). The body mass of males is 242–300 kg (530–660 lb) and of females is 223–280 kg (490–620 lb). The shoulder of this species is typically around 130–140 cm (51–55 in). Named for their roan colour (a reddish brown), they have lighter underbellies, white eyebrows and cheeks and black faces, lighter in females. They have short, erect manes, very light beards and prominent red nostrils. The horns are ringed and can reach a metre long in males, slightly shorter in females. They arch backwards slightly. They are similar in appearance to sable antelope and can be confused where their ranges overlap. Sable antelope males are darker, being black rather than dark brown.
Roan antelope are found in woodland and grassland savanna, mainly in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome, which range in tree density from forest with a grassy understorey. They form harem groups of five to 15 animals with a dominant male. Roan antelope commonly fight among themselves for dominance of their herd, brandishing their horns while both animals are on their knees.