KARACHI, Feb 27: For the first time in Pakistan, the African antelope commonly known as waterbuck (Robusiellipiprymnus) has bred in Safari Park of the city government.

The Safari Park has one male and three females of this kind, procured three years ago. These robust and large antelopes prefer to live in grassy areas preferably near a river with thick cover around for protection, wherefrom they emerge to graze in the open and return to their protective zones to ruminate and rest, where they remain till dusk.

In areas where there is no imminent threat of hunters, they roam freely during the daytime otherwise they come out only at night even for food.

The male waterbuck holds a territory covering between one fourth to one square mile, usually along the riverbank where thickets provide food and protection as well. It guards the territory jealously, watching all the while if some errand female has wandered into his area. Thereupon she is not allowed to escape into her original herd by the dominant male that stands in front of her with his head up and forefeet together, an indication that she can no more join the herd across his territory.

The young waterbucks stay with the females until fully grown. The male upon attaining puberty is then allowed to wander away to join the male group and the hornless females prefer to remain in their own pack.

The female waterbuck gives birth to a single calf at a time and gestation takes 240 days. The young one remains in the protective custody of the mother in the grassy thicket for three to four weeks.

Waterbucks are often seen standing up to their bellies in water. Only the male has pointed straight horns that he uses freely for protection and during fights.

The Safari Park is also planning to procure rhinos and giraffes in near future.— Dr A. A. Quraishy.

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