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 human care 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.
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 continued interest in reintroducing roan into protected areas of southern and eastern Africa and White Oak is considering the possibility.