Where species of antelope are concerned, the Topi of sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most exceptional, as well as one of our personal favorites here at Curious Nature. They are commonly mistaken for Hartebeest due to their similar appearance, but it’s their social structure and behavior that makes them a truly unique character of the plains.
Across the animal kingdom, males are typically found at the top of the social hierarchy. While male Topi are physically larger and darker in color, females take on a more dominant role in a reversal of the sexes.
When the male leaves his harem, his females are left in charge of the territory and will take on his behaviors and aggressions to keep intruders of both genders out. Most intriguingly, females will compete with one another for the most dominant, hotshot males. Female Topi are only in heat for one day out of the year, so the stakes are high and the competition can be aggressive. (Think of it as the animal kingdom’s version of The Bachelor). While males attempt to mate with as many females as possible (or so the stereotype goes), females have a habit of trying to pair with males they’ve mated with in the past. Lady Topi have been known to disrupt copulations between other females and their favorite male. The more dominant the female, the less likely she will be interrupted in her ‘romantic’ ventures, but a subordinate female could have a difficult time trying to secure alone time with a highly desired member of the opposite sex.
Topi have a rather low predation rate when other prey species are present, possibly because when they are pressured they can reach speeds of close to 50mph, making them one of the swiftest large antelopes in Africa. Conservation-wise, Topi are listed under Least Concern on the ICUN’s list of threatened species, though they have faced habitat loss in recent decades and been forced farther away from their former ranges.
We have a Topi of our very own here in the shop. Regardless of his promiscuous, dramatic, and interesting social behavior, he’s still one of our most beloved pieces. Stop by and see him for yourself!