Topi (Damaliscus lunatus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Bovidae
Size:    Length: 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m)  Height: 42 to 50 inches (1.05 to 1.26 m) to shoulder
Weight: 198 to 353 pounds (90 to 160 kg)
Diet: Grass and leaves
Distribution: Africa
Young:  1 calf per year
Animal Predators:  Lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and Cape hunting dogs
IUCN Status: Lower Risk, Conservation Dependent
Terms: Young: Calf   Group: Herd
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years



           Topi is an African native name meaning antelope.

           When topis grow older than 15 years of age, their teeth begin to fall out.

           When alarmed, topis can may reach speeds in excess of 44 miles (70 km) per hour.


These medium-sized antelopes have slightly curved, ringed horns that extend up to 28 inches (71 cm) in length. Their reddish-brown fur is short and glossy and they have black markings on their legs and face. More rarely, white markings are found. Their tail has long, black fur at the tip. There are slight humps on their shoulders. Males and females are very similar in appearance. 



Topis are found in grasslands and lightly wooded savannas.


Feeding Habits

Topis eat mainly grass and leaves. They feed during the day and need to find drinking water at least once every other day. 



Births usually occur between July and December and the gestation period lasts approximately eight months. Newborns are fawn coloured but grow darker as they age. They remain hidden in long grass until they are a few days old and can keep up with the herd. Calves form nursery groups and play together while one or two females watch over the group as the other mothers graze. Calves are weaned at approximately four months and stay with their mothers until they are approximately one year of age. Females reach sexual maturity by the time they reach two years, while males reach maturity at three; however, males usually do not breed before the age of four.



Topis are social animals that live in herds of 15 to 30 individuals, meeting up with other herds during migration times to create groups that number into the hundreds. Not all topis migrate, however. Some live in resident herds that stay in the same vicinity year round. While the herd grazes or rests, one topi will stand on a termite mound to survey the surrounding area to watch for predators.   



According to the IUCN, the subspecies Damaliscus lunatus korrigum is considered Vulnerable, while the subspecies Damaliscus lunatus tiang is considered Lower Risk, Near Threatened. Habitat loss due to ranching and human development is one of the major threats to topis.



National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1998