Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus – Ogilby 1833) are large antelope, which, as their name implies, are often associated with the close proximity of water, into which these animals will sometimes flee to escape from danger. They are robust and well built - the males (bulls) carry large, lyre shaped horns, which are absent in the females (cows).
They belong to the subfamily Reduncinae to which common reedbuck, mountain reedbuck and lechwe also belong. They weigh between 250 – 270 kg (500 – 600 pounds) and stand about 1,7m (about 42 inches) tall at the shoulder. The coat colour is usually a dark brown grey. The underside and sides of the neck are generally lighter in colour and the frontal aspect and lower half of the legs darker. There is a conspicuous white patch below each eye. As waterbuck are grazers they prefer to frequent open grassy areas – often on the fringes of pans or rivers.
The coat is quite long and shaggy – especially in the young. It has an oily texture with a distinct musky odour, which can sometimes, if the wind is blowing towards you, be smelled at a distance. It also leaves a lingering smell, which can also be detected awhile after waterbuck have moved through an area. A characteristic feature of waterbuck is the white ring on the rump, which can give the impression of the animal having sat on a freshly painted white toilet seat. This has given rise to a slang name in Afrikaans – “kringgat” – which is translated as “ring bottom".