Scientific Name: Hippotragus equinus
IUCN Status: Least Concern
Quick Fact: roan will aggressively confront predators, including lions, when threatened
Learn More: visit ARKive to learn more about roan antelope
The Hippotraginae family of “horse antelopes” includes several species which are often large bodied antelope with neck manes, long tails, and long legs for running and fleeing. The roan antelope’s horse comparison also includes brown to reddish-tan hair color like a roan horse, and thus the name. Not common anywhere in Africa, the roan antelope lives in small herds near permanent water sources where they browse on grasses, plants, leaves, and seed pods. They are one of the largest antelope (up to 750 lbs) and are renowned for their strength and aggressive defense of their herds and calves, even against lions.
White Oak has maintained a significant herd and breeding program for the roan antelope since 1978. This species can be challenging to manage in captivity due to their size and potential for herd aggression and occasional health problems such as parasites. The climate, space, and facility at White Oak suit the roan very well and they are thriving with nearly 90 calves born since their arrival.
Wild populations of roan antelope are declining in some regions of Africa. In 1996 White Oak sent a group of young roan born here to South Africa where they were reintroduced to parks where roan antelope populations have been depleted. There is continuing interest to introduce roan into protected areas in southern and eastern Africa and White Oak is considering this potential.