13 March 2014

This very handsome creature is a waterbuck. His name is Hide and you can see him on Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo, along with two female and two junior waterbuck in the Woodlands Waterhole. We caught up with  zoo keeper, Michael, who has known Hide since he was born, to talk all things waterbuck!

What is the animal’s name and how old are they?

Our mature male waterbuck’s name is Hide and he is turning 9 on 14th March (This Friday - Happy Birthday Hide!)

How long have they been with Zoos Victoria, and if they moved from another zoo, which zoo were they from?

He was born here at Werribee Open Range Zoo to parents Nimba and Kampala in 2005. For the first few years of his life, Hide lived on Core Island (which is now home to our bachelor gorilla group) with four female waterbuck and his half brother, Zim, as well as a herd of zebra.

He now lives in the Woodlands Waterhole in a typical family herd – with two females and his two young sons.

What is that animal’s personality like? What words would you use to describe them?

Laconic! He has so much strength within him but he is so well respected he doesn’t have to use it! He appears to be casual and relaxed – he knows that the other animals know to give him space and respect.  He is a good, strong leader.

How does the animal get along with the other animals in the group?

The other waterbuck respect his space as the male, the boss, the leader although he is never too far away from his family. There is the occasional standoff between Hide and the zebras for food but there is mutual respect.  If it’s one on one, Hide will win out but if it’s a group of zebras, Hide tends to back off!

How does the animal get along with the keepers?

Hide gets along well with keepers and is generally very relaxed. Keepers do need to take care not to get too close however and they always watch his body language carefully to ensure that they are not seen to be a threat. Hide responds to ‘waterbuck’ when called and will lead the group – everyone else follows!

What are the animal’s favourite foods, what does it eat every day and what does it like to eat as a treat?

The waterbuck is more of a browser rather than a grazer. Hide prefers a good quality lucerne hay although has to keep an eye out for the cheeky zebra who tend to steal it at any opportunity! They are also given oaten and grass hays and hoof-stock pellets.

Is the animal endangered in the wild? What are the risks to its livelihood?

While the waterbuck is currently listed as Least Concern in the wild, the species is susceptible to poaching and a number of populations have severely declined over the last decade. The waterbuck was formerly found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa yet has been eliminated widely within its former territory. Waterbuck are still widespread across parts of Africa, with an estimated total population of about 200,000 - over half of which occur in protected areas.

While the main threats include hunting and poaching, waterbuck also fall prey to predators such as lion and leopard. 

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