1. The roan antelope Hippotragus equinus, Africa’s second largest antelope
species, is widely distributed throughout Africa. Many populations are isolated,
occur at low densities, and are declining. The species’ interactions with and adaptations
to the diverse environmental conditions throughout its geographic range
remain largely unknown. Most studies have taken place in southern Africa, near
the range limit for the species; few studies have been conducted on the historically
large Central and West African populations.
2. We reviewed available published and accessible unpublished data related to the
ecology of roan antelope. We aim to: 1) review available taxonomic, abundance,
distribution, and population trend data; 2) describe the threats faced by the roan
antelope, and establish whether sufficient data exist to describe its ecological
requirements; and 3) highlight the relevance of conserving this species throughout
Africa and suggest where research on survival requirements should be focussed.
3. Roan antelope populations throughout Africa are declining due to natural and
anthropogenic threats. Methodological irregularities result in uncertainty and
non-comparable population data between studies. Large gaps exist in our knowledge
of roan antelope diet and regional movements. Information on the population
genetics of roan antelope is needed in order to assess the connectedness of
4. Data deficiency severely impedes our ability to employ powerful analytical
methods aimed at understanding and predicting population persistence and
viability, and to model envisaged threats from impending climate change. A
unified approach to fundamental ecological research is required to inform the
conservation and management of large rare mammalian ungulates such as the
roan antelope in Africa.