Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sitatunga in the Congo Basin

I like antelope. While the tourist safari buses search out lions I look at the antelope, from the ones you can’t miss on the plains to the small ones in the bush. Having been in several places in Africa where we could have seen Sitatunga, swamp dwellers, but didn’t, it was a delight to see one trotting along the far side of the bai as we arrived on the deck of the ‘camp’ (for camp read luxury lodge) at Lango in the Republic of Congo.

The next day we were lucky to see these two males from a boat as we drifted downstream with the engine off. They clearly had their minds on seeing each other off as we came upon them by the side of the river:

The Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) was described in 1863 by John Hanning Speke (1827-1864), explorer of the Nile, but named by Philip Lutley Sclater. Some authors refer to it as T. spekei, I think in what was an attempt to use the modern use of one -i rather than two, -ii. I found this explanation of using one or two:

I know that the sitatunga is not in the least endangered. I know the economic arguments for permitting hunting by wealthy individuals. But I really find it utterly revolting to find videos on the internet of grown American men and women hunting and killing Sitatunga with crossbows for ‘sport’. What sort of mentality drives such people to make a sitatunga snuff movie?