White-eared Kob Antelope

White-eared Kob Antelope Photo
A herd of kob antelope migrates through Southern Sudan. Male and female kob antelope are easily distinguished: The males have chocolate brown hides and the females are light tan.
©P. Elkan & M. Fay

The yearly migrations of huge herds of white-eared kob, tiang (topi), and Mongalla gazelle in Southern Sudan rival that of wildebeest on the famed Serengeti Plains. In the early 1980s, WCS-funded surveys estimated there to be 800,000 white-eared kob in the Boma National Park region of Southern Sudan. Shortly afterward, Southern Sudan plunged into 25 years of civil war, and wildlife was thought to have been decimated by poaching. In the first aerial surveys after the peace agreement of 2005, however, WCS found that the kob, tiang, and gazelle migrations had remained largely intact, with numbers similar to pre-war levels.

Kob inhabit moist grasslands across East and West Africa, but occur in great numbers only in Southern Sudan. The animals’ splayed hooves enable them to thrive in seasonal floodplains, and they move between wet and dry areas, searching for food and water. Routes of migration vary, depending on the distribution of rainfall and floods. The animals can cover nearly 1,000 miles a year, ranging over parts of Boma National Park, the Jonglei area, and Badingalo National Park in Southern Sudan and the neighboring Gambella area of Ethiopia.

Fast Facts

Scientific NameKobus kob leucotis
  • This subspecies occurs primarily in Southern Sudan with some smaller numbers found in adjacent southwestern Ethiopia.
  • Kob males fiercely defend tiny mating territories that are clustered together on traditional mating grounds called “leks,” attracting females when they are ready to breed.
  • Only the males have striking, S-shaped horns that bend sharply backward before curving up. 
  • Chocolate brown adult males are easily distinguished from the light tan females.


Challenges to the migration include uncontrolled and unsustainable hunting with automatic weapons, although kob have been hunted sustainably with spears from time immemorial. Development of a road network across their migratory routes poses another threat, creating physical obstacles and disturbances that interfere with movement patterns and providing new avenues for commercial hunters and wildlife trade. Development of oil extraction and commercial agriculture, as well as the possibility that plans will be renewed to drain the Sudd swamp, are looming challenges to the great antelope migrations in the post-war era.

WCS Responds

WCS has worked with key private donors, the U.S. Government/USAID, and Government of Southern Sudan partners to mobilize funding for the Boma-Jonglei Landscape program to foster natural resource management and biodiversity conservation across the region. WCS is also working with the Government of Southern Sudan to assess the status of wildlife populations and the impacts of oil extraction, establish and support protected area management, and help develop sustainable land-use management plans with local stakeholders. Our efforts include promotion of a trans-boundary conservation link between Boma in Southern Sudan, adjacent protected areas in Ethiopia, and neighboring areas in northern Kenya.

From the Newsroom

A Way Forward on the HorizonJuly 6, 2011

Conservationist Paul Elkan, director of WCS’s South Sudan Country Program, discusses his work surveying the new nation’s vast wildlife herds, identifying its key migratory corridors, and helping to ensure a future for one of the great wonders of the world.

Southern Sudan's Wildlife TreasureJanuary 20, 2011

In an op-ed published on CNN.com about the elections in Southern Sudan, WCS CEO and President Dr. Steven Sanderson argues that a sound conservation and resource management agenda will be a vital part of a nation-building process there.

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