Antelopes

 

 

The male blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is a wonderful creature, coal black, with white markings on face, legs and belly, and long, straight, spiralled horns. – Tal Chapar Sanctuary, Rajasthan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Greater kudu (Strepsiceros strepsiceros) males have impressive spiralled horns. This picture shows a male of the subspecies zambeziensis, with yellow-billed ox-peckers (Buphagus africanus), searching for skin parasites, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

This male Kirk’s dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii, subspecies cavendishi), is marking his territory with secretions from an eye gland, Arusha National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Antelopes, comprising about 30 genera with c. 90 species, are not a homogeneous or well-defined group. The term is used to describe all members of the family Bovidae, which are not cattle, sheep, goats, or goat-antelopes. Ongoing genetic research may cause this family to be reorganized several times in the future. The vast majority of antelopes are found in Africa, with a dozen species in Asia.

The word antelope stems from an ancient Greek word, antholops. According to Eustathius of Antioch (c. 336), this was the name of a fabulous animal “haunting the banks of the Euphrates, very savage, hard to catch and having long, saw-like horns capable of cutting down trees.”

One theory is that the name may derive from the Greek anthos (‘flower’) and ops (‘eye’), thus ‘flower-eyed’, perhaps referring to the beautiful eyes or long eyelashes of this animal.

On this page, the pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is included, as one of its American names is American antelope, which is somewhat misleading, as it is not a true antelope, but forms a separate family, Antilocapridae.

The majority of the information on this page is borrowed from various pages on Wikipedia, and from the IUCN website, iucn.org.

 

 

Subfamily Bovinae, tribe Tragelaphini
This tribe is called spiral-horned antelopes. The scientific name alludes to a creature in Greek mythology, the tragelaph, from the Greek tragos (‘billy goat’) and elaphos (‘deer’), also called hircocervus, from the Latin hircus (‘billy goat’) and cervus (‘deer’) – a Chimera with the body of a stag and the head of a goat.

 

Genus Tragelaphus

 

Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus)
This antelope is very widespread, found in all of sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of the Congo Rainforest Basin and the arid areas of Somalia, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. It lives in various types of forest and in savanna woodland.

Some scientists maintain that, in reality, this animal constitutes two species, the widespread Cape bushbuck, or imbabala (Tragelaphus sylvaticus), and the kéwel (Tragelaphus scriptus), which is restricted to parts of western Africa. Others dispute this theory.

 

 

The coat of adult bushbuck males may be almost black. – Lake Nakuru, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Female bushbuck, feeding in dry shrub forest, Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Portrait of a female, Victoria Falls National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Mountain nyala (Tragelaphus buxtoni)
This large species, also known as balbok, is endemic to montane woodlands at an altitude of about 3000 m in the highlands of central Ethiopia, east of the Rift Valley, with more than half of the population in an area of c. 200 km2 in Bale Mountains National Park. The male stands up to 135 cm at the shoulder, weighing up to 300 kg. Females are smaller, weighing up to 200 kg. The coat of the male is dark grey, with white patches on the throat and neck, and black and white markings in the face. Females are greyish brown.

This species was the last large antelope to be discovered in Africa, described as late as 1910. Major Ivor Buxton, who had been on a hunting trip to Ethiopia, brought a specimen to England in 1908, where it was described by naturalist Richard Lydekker (1849-1915), who gave it the specific name buxtoni in honour of the major.

The mountain nyala is endangered due to competition from large herds of cattle, which is brought into the mountains by human settlers.

 

 

The male mountain nyala is a magnificent animal, with large, spiralled horns. – Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male and female, Bale Mountains National Park. The female has no horns. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Running female, Bale Mountains National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii)
The very long hooves of this antelope can be widely splayed, an adaptation to run in wet or swampy areas without sinking in. It is an excellent swimmer and may dive when in danger, lying submerged with only the nostrils above the surface.

Three subspecies are currently recognized: the Nile, or East African, sitatunga, ssp. spekii, which lives in the Nile watershed, the Congo, or forest, sitatunga, ssp. gratus, which is distributed in western and central Africa, and the Zambezi sitatunga, ssp. selousi, found in southern Zaire, Zambia, Angola, and northern Botswana.

The rather long coat of the male of the nominate race is brown with a reddish tinge, whereas the male of the Zambezi sitatunga is slate-grey. Females are a beautiful reddish-brown. Both sexes have white markings in the face, and sometimes whitish vertical stripes on their body. Only the male has horns, which are rather short and slightly spiralled.

 

 

Male Nile sitatunga, ssp. spekii, Saiwa Swamps National Park, western Kenya. In the upper picture, a grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is also seen. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male Zambezi sitatunga, ssp. selousi, Kasanka National Park, northern Zambia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Ammelaphus

 

Lesser kudu (Ammelaphus imberbis)
Previously, this species was included in the genus Tragelaphus, but genetic research has concluded that it diverged from other members of this genus at an early stage, causing it to be transferred to a separate genus. It is distributed from Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan southwards to central Tanzania, living in shrubland and forested savannas. Two subspecies are recognized, the northern imberbis, and the southern australis. Some scientists claim that they constitute separate species.

 

 

Female lesser kudu, ssp. imberbis, Awash National Park, Ethiopia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Female, ssp. australis, Buffalo Springs National Park, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Strepsiceros

 

Greater kudu (Strepsiceros strepsiceros)
Until recently, the greater kudu, which is widely distributed in eastern and southern Africa, was called Tragelaphus strepsiceros, divided into three subspecies. However, recent genetic research has caused it to be placed in a separate genus, with four subspecies, which, by some authorities, have been upgraded to full species.

Cape greater kudu, ssp. strepsiceros, is restricted to southernmost South Africa.

Zambezi greater kudu, ssp. zambeziensis, is found from southern Kenya southwards through eastern Africa to northern South Africa, and thence westwards to southern Angola and Namibia.

Northern greater kudu, ssp. chora, is distributed from Eritrea southwards to northern Kenya.

Western greater kudu, ssp. cottoni, lives in southern Chad and Sudan, and northern Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Male greater kudus have impressive spiralled horns, and for this reason they have been much persecuted by trophy hunters.

 

 

Males of Zambezi greater kudu, subspecies zambeziensis, Etosha National Park, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Zambezi male, Zambezi National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Zambezi female with red-billed ox-peckers (Buphagus erythrorhynchus), searching for skin parasites, Kruger National Park, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Ancient rock painting, depicting hunters, pursuing a male Zambezi kudu, Nswatugi Cave, Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Taurotragus

 

Common eland (Taurotragus oryx)
This species is huge. An adult male may be up to 1.6 m tall and weigh up to almost a ton. Only one other antelope, its near relative giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus), is slightly larger. The common eland, which lives in woodland savanna and other types of grassland, may sometimes form herds of up to 500 animals. It is distributed from central Kenya, southern Zaire, and northern Angola southwards to the Cape province of South Africa.

The generic name is derived from the Greek tauros (‘bull’) and tragos (‘billy goat’), alluding to its cow-like appearance, and to a tuft of hair in its ear, which resembles a goat’s beard. The specific name is from the Greek orygos (‘pickaxe’), referring to the pointed horns of several African antelopes. The common name eland is Dutch for the moose (Alces alces). It seems that to the Boer, who settled in South Africa in the 1700s, this antelope resembled a moose.

 

 

Common eland, Nairobi National Park, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Herd of eland, Hell’s Gate, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

The tiny church in the village of Rondo, southern Tanzania, is adorned with a series of gorgeous stained-glass windows, depicting God’s creations, made by English artist and biologist Jonathan Kingdon (born 1935). The mammals are represented by an eland and a leopard (Panthera pardus). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Subfamily Bovinae, tribe Boselaphini

 

Genus Boselaphus

 

Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus)
This large, stout antelope is distributed in the major part of India, and there is also a small population in southern Nepal. The name nilgai is Hindi for ‘blue cow’, referring to the slate-coloured, slightly bluish coat of the male, and to its similarity to the sacred cow. For the latter reason, the nilgai is protected by devout Hindus and has thus escaped the fate of many other animals in India, which are on the brink of extinction, such as tiger (Panthera tigris), lion (Panthera leo), and blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra). The coat of females and young is a pale sandy brown. Both sexes have a white throat patch.

The scientific name of this antelope is quite peculiar. It is derived from four Greek words, bous (‘cow’), elaphos (‘deer’), tragos (‘goat’), and kamelos (‘camel’). The name was applied by Prussian naturalist Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811), to whom this antelope apparently resembled a mixture of these four animals.

 

 

The slate-coloured, slightly bluish coat of the male, and its similarity to the sacred cow, have given rise to its name, which means ‘blue cow’ in Hindi. This bull was photographed in Sariska National Park, Rajasthan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Nilgai males, drinking from a waterhole, Sariska National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Females, drinking from a waterhole, Sariska National Park. In the upper picture, peacocks (Pavo cristatus) are also seen, and the bird on the back of the nilgai is a rufous treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Herd, running across a swamp, Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Female and young, Sariska National Park. Note the typical black-and-white markings on the ears. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Genus Tetracerus

 

Four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis)
This tiny antelope, which stands only c. 60 cm at the shoulder and weighs about 20 kg, is the only wild bovid with four horns, of which the anterior pair, in the centre of the skull, is much smaller than the posterior pair. These horns have given rise all names of this animal. The generic name is from the Greek tetra (‘four’) and keras (‘horn’), whereas the specific name is from the Latin quattuor (‘four’) and cornu (‘horn’). The Hindi name, which is variously written chausingha, chowsingha, or chousingha, is derived from chaar (‘four’) and siing (‘horn’).

Three subspecies have been described, ssp. quadricornis, which is distributed in most of the Indian Peninsula, ssp. subquadricornutus, which is found in southern India, and ssp. iodes, which is restricted to southern Nepal.

 

 

In this picture, a female four-horned antelope, of the nominate subspecies, is drinking from a waterhole together with its young, Sariska National Park, Rajasthan. A northern plains langur (Semnopithecus entellus) is seen to the left. This species, and many other monkeys, are described on the page Animals: Monkeys and apes. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Subfamily Antilopinae
This subfamily consists of the blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), African and Asian gazelles (genera Gazella, Eudorcas, Nanger, and Procapra), the springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis), the dibatag (Ammodorcas clarkei), and the gerenuk (Litocranius walleri), all belonging to the tribe Antilopini, and a number of small African antelopes of the tribe Neotragini, by some authorities regarded as a separate subfamily, Neotraginae.

 

Tribe Antilopini

 

Genus Antilope

 

Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra)
The male of this species is a wonderful creature: coal black, with white markings on face, legs and belly, and long, straight, spiralled horns, growing to 65 cm long in some individuals. During territorial battles, the males spar with their horns, trying to gather as many females as possible for their harem. Females and young males have more subtle colours, being brown and white.

Formerly, this gorgeous animal was distributed all over plains and semi-deserts in India and Pakistan, but uncontrolled hunting by British and Indian ‘sportsmen’ (as they were fond of calling themselves), and competition from grazing cattle, goats and sheep, took their toll.

The blackbuck disappeared completely from Pakistan, and from most of India. Larger herds survived only in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, mainly because the animals were protected by the Bishnoi and other local peoples. Traditionally, they protect all wild animals, even allowing them to graze in their fields of wheat and lentils. Thanks to their protection of the blackbuck, biologists have been able to re-introduce the species to many locations in India.

The blackbuck also plays a role in Hindu mythology, where the chariot of the moon god Chandrama is pulled by this animal.

At the outskirts of the town of Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, South India, a huge sculpture, measuring c. 15 by 30 m, has been carved into two boulders. The main theme of this sculpture, which has been dubbed The Descent of the Ganges, is an event in the Hindu epic Mahabharatha. Bhagiratha was a great king, doing penance for a thousand years to obtain the release of his 60,000 great-uncles from the curse of Saint Kapila, eventually leading to the descent of the goddess Ganga to Earth, in the form of River Ganges. However, many other themes have been included in the sculpture, including animals like elephants, cats, and blackbuck.

You may read about my difficulties to photograph blackbuck on the page Travel episodes – India 1979: Hunting blackbuck with camera, and my visit to a Bishnoi family is related on the page Travel episodes – India 1991: Bishnois live in harmony with nature.

 

 

Male blackbuck, near Osiyan, Rajasthan. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

The blackbuck was saved in the nick of time, mainly due to protection by the Bishnoi people. This herd is grazing in a Bishnoi field near Jodhpur, Rajasthan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

An adult male, several younger males, and many females, gathered at a waterhole, Velavadar National Park, Gujarat. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Two younger males, still with brownish parts on their body, Tal Chapar Sanctuary, Rajasthan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Detail of the sculpture ‘The Descent of the Ganges’ (see text above), depicting blackbuck. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Genus Gazella

 

Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas)
The dorcas gazelle was described in 1758 by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), also called Carl von Linné, who named it for the Arabian word for gazelle, gazal, and the Greek word for these animals, dorkas. This species lives in arid grasslands of deserts and semideserts in northern Africa, from Morocco and Mauritania eastwards to Egypt and the Sudan, and along the Red Sea coast southwards to Somalia. It is also found in Israel.

Six subspecies are recognized: Egyptian dorcas gazelle, ssp. dorcas, isabelline dorcas gazelle, ssp. isabella, Moroccan dorcas gazelle, ssp. massaesyla, Saharan dorcas gazelle, ssp. osiris (including neglecta), Eritrean dorcas gazelle, ssp. beccarii, and Pelzeln’s gazelle, ssp. pelzelnii, also called Somali dorcas gazelle.

 

 

Relief in the Hakim Mosque, Old Cairo, Egypt, depicting an Egyptian dorcas gazelle. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Chinkara (Gazella bennettii)
This small species, which is also called Indian gazelle, is distributed from central and eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan eastwards through southern Pakistan to southern central India, living in deserts, arid hills, and dry scrub forests. In Pakistan, it has been found up to elevations of 1,500 m.

Six subspecies are recognized, some of which are regarded as full species by some authorities.

The nominate race, called Deccan chinkara, is found from the Gangetic Plain southwards to Andhra Pradesh, India.

Gujarat chinkara, ssp. christii, is distributed from southern Pakistan to the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Salt Range gazelle, ssp. salinarum, lives in eastern Pakistan and north-western India.

Kennion gazelle, or Baluchistan gazelle, ssp. fuscifrons, occurs in eastern Iran, southern Afghanistan, southern Pakistan, and Rajasthan.

Jebeer gazelle, or Shikari gazelle, ssp. shikari, is found in north-eastern Iran.

Bushehr gazelle, ssp. karamii, is restricted to an area near Bushehr, north-eastern Iran.

Populations of this gazelle have been severely reduced by hunting. The Iranian and Pakistani populations are scattered and fragmented, and it may be extinct in Afghanistan. The stronghold of the species is India, with an estimated 100,000 individuals, of which c. 80,000 live in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

 

 

Gujarat chinkaras, subspecies christii, in morning light, near Osiyan, Thar Desert, Rajasthan. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Detail of the sculpture ‘The Descent of the Ganges’ (see blackbuck above), depicting chinkaras. – Mamallapuram, South India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Genus Eudorcas
Members of this genus, often called ring-horned gazelles, were once included in the genus Gazella, subgenus Eudorcas, which has since been elevated to a separate genus.

 

Thomson’s gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii)
This small gazelle is distributed from central Kenya southwards to central Tanzania. Two subspecies have been described, the eastern Thomson’s gazelle, ssp. thomsonii, found east of the Rift Valley, and Serengeti Thomson’s gazelle, ssp. nasalis, living west of the Rift Valley. This species is probably the most common of the gazelles, with a population of around 500,000.

Despite being among the fastest mammals on the planet, which is able to run at almost 90 km/h over short distances, it is a favourite prey of the African hunting dog (Lycaon pictus). One such hunt is described on the page Animals: Hunting dogs – nomads of the savanna.

Thomson’s gazelle was described by German-born British naturalist Albert Günther (1830-1914), who named it Gazella thomsoni, honouring Scottish geologist Joseph Thomson (1858-1895) – an excellent explorer, who never caused the killing of any native, or lost any of his men due to confrontations. His motto was “He who goes gently, goes safely; he who goes safely, goes far.”

 

 

Thomson’s gazelle is a very handsome animal, brown and white, with a prominent black stripe along the flanks. This picture shows a male Serengeti Thomson’s gazelle, subspecies nasalis, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male, chewing the cud, Ngorongoro Crater. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Sparring males, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Over shorter distances, Thomson’s gazelle can run at almost 90 km/h. – Serengeti National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Genus Nanger
Like members of the genus Eudorcas, members of the genus Nanger, comprising three species, were once included in the genus Gazella, but have since been moved to a separate genus.

 

Grant’s gazelle (Nanger granti)
This powerful gazelle was named for Scottish explorer Lieutenant-Colonel James Augustus Grant (1827-1892), who explored parts of East Africa. Five subspecies have been described, distributed from South Sudan and Ethiopia southwards through Kenya to northern Tanzania. The male has thick horns that curve backwards and outwards, whereas the female has slender, usually straight horns, with the tip pointing slightly forward. In this respect, they resemble those of the springbok (see below).

 

 

Circling around each other, these Grant’s gazelle males are performing dominance display, showing their opponents the size of their body and horns. In this way, one may withdraw, thus avoiding to fight against a stronger opponent. – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Grant’s gazelle females have slender, usually straight horns, with the tip pointing slightly forward. – Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Suckling kid, Ngorongoro Crater. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Soemmerring’s gazelle (Nanger soemmerringii)
This large gazelle, also known as Abyssinian mohr, was described by German physicist and naturalist Philipp Jakob Cretzschmar (1786-1845) and named in honour of another German physicist and naturalist, Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring (1755-1830).

Three subspecies are recognized, native to eastern Africa, from Eritrea and South Sudan through Ethiopia to Somalia. It is extinct in Sudan, and is also threatened in its present area of distribution.

 

 

Male Soemmerring’s gazelle, Awash National Park, Ethiopia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Antidorcas

 

Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)
When the Boer (Dutch immigrants) arrived in South Africa in the 18th Century, they noticed a species of antelope, which would often jump about, obviously for sheer pleasure. For this reason, they named it springbok (’jumping buck’). This behaviour is called pronking, where an animal, on stiff legs, leaps several times into the air, sometimes as much as 2 m above the ground, arching its back and raising a pocket-like, white skin flap, which extends from the tail along the midline of the back.

The scientific name is derived from the Greek anti (‘opposite’) and dorkas (‘gazelle’), indicating that this animal is not a true gazelle, and from the Latin marsupium (‘pocket’), alluding to the skin flap. Another difference from the gazelles is that its horns are either straight, or with the tips curving slightly forward, whereas those of the gazelles usually are curving backward in an arch.

The springbok lives in dry areas of south-western Africa, from extreme southern Angola southwards through Namibia and western Botswana to western South Africa. It is the national animal of the latter country.

 

 

Portrait of a springbok, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Springbok horns are either straight, or with the tips curving slightly forward. – Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Springbok, scratching its head, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

This male is about to quench his thirst at a waterhole in Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, together with numerous ring-necked doves (Streptopelia capicola). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Herd, jumping across a stream, Etosha National Park, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

This young savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana), which was drinking from the stream in the picture above, seems to be annoyed by the presence of a springbok. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Springbok, eating a tsamma melon (Citrullus lanatus), Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Litocranius

 

Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri)
This slender, long-necked antelope, also known as giraffe gazelle, lives in arid areas, from south-eastern Ethiopia and Somalia southwards through eastern Kenya to north-eastern Tanzania. The males, which may weigh up to 52 kg, have horns that are lyre-shaped, measuring up to c. 45 cm long, whereas the females are hornless.

This species was described in 1878 by Anglo-Irish naturalist Sir Victor Alexander Brooke (1843-1891). The generic name is from the Greek lithos (‘stone’) and the Latin cranium (‘skull’). Apparently, the gerenuk has a hard skull. The specific name was given in honour of English naturalist Richard Waller (c. 1655-1715), whereas the common name derives from a Somali word, garanuug, meaning ‘giraffe-necked’.

Two subspecies are identified, by some authorities recognized as separate species. Northern gerenuk, or Sclater’s gazelle, ssp. sclateri, is found from eastern Ethiopia and Djibouti southwards to north-western Somalia, whereas the southern gerenuk, or Waller’s gazelle, ssp. walleri, is distributed from central Somalia southwards to north-eastern Tanzania. Subspecies sclateri was named for English lawyer and zoologist Philip Lutley Sclater (1829-1913).

 

 

Southern gerenuk, subspecies walleri, feeding on acacia leaves, Samburu National Park, Kenya. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Subfamily Antilopinae, tribe Neotragini
This tribe consists of a number of smaller to very small antelopes of sub-Saharan Africa. Some authorities regarded it as a separate subfamily, Neotraginae.

The following genera are included in this tribe: Neotragus (suni), Madoqua (dik-diks), Raphicerus (steenbok and grysboks), Oreotragus (klipspringer), Ourebia (oribi), Dorcatragus (beira), and Nesotragus (dwarf antelopes). The latter were previously placed in Neotragus, but have now been transferred to a separate genus.

 

Genus Neotragus
The name of this genus is derived from the Greek neos (‘new’) and tragos (‘billy goat’).

 

Suni (Neotragus moschatus)
This very small antelope, only 30-43 cm high at the shoulder and weighing 4-5 kilos, lives in dense thickets in a belt along the African East Coast, from central Kenya southwards to north-eastern South Africa. Populations have been much reduced due to poaching, habitat loss, and predation by dogs, especially in South Africa, where it is confined mainly to north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. Four subspecies are accepted, by some authorities regarded as full species.

The specific name is Latin, meaning ‘smelling of musk’.

 

 

This suni has been trapped illegally by poachers in a snare, Rondo Forest Reserve, southern Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Genus Madoqua
Dik-diks are four species of tiny African antelopes, standing between 30 and 45 cm tall and weighing no more than 3 to 7 kg. They are named for the alarm calls of the females, a trumpet-like zik-zik. Males mark their territory with secretions from an eye gland (see photo on top of this page).

 

Kirk’s dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii)
Four subspecies are distributed from extreme eastern Uganda, northern Kenya, and southern Somalia southwards to southern Tanzania, whereas a fifth, ssp. damarensis, which forms a disjunct population in western Angola and north-western Namibia, may constitute a separate species.

 

 

Male Kirk’s dik-dik, subspecies cavendishi, standing on a termite mound, Lake Bogoria, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Three Kirk’s dik-dik, subspecies cavendishi, perhaps male and female with a young, Arusha National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Günther’s dik-dik (Madoqua guentheri)
This species is found in arid areas of southern Ethiopia and South Sudan, eastern Uganda, northern Kenya, and Somalia. It was named in honour of German-born British zoologist Albert Günther (1830-1914), whose specialties were fishes and reptiles. He described more than 340 reptile species and was the first to conclude that the tuatara of New Zealand was not a lizard, but the only living member of an entirely new group of reptiles, which he named Rhynchocephalia.

 

 

Günther’s dik-dik, Lake Baringo, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Raphicerus

 

Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris)
This small antelope lives in various habitats, including open woodland, savanna, and stony areas. It is distributed in two separate areas, from central Kenya southwards to southern Tanzania, and from Namibia eastwards to Zambia, and thence southwards to the Cape Region of South Africa. It is easily identified by the enormous ears with distinct black stripes inside. The male has small, straight, pointed horns, which may be up to 19 cm long, whereas the female has no horns.

This species was named by the Boer, in Afrikaans steenbok, meaning ‘stone buck’, possibly referring to the fact that some specimens are almost brick-red. This name was adopted by the English.

 

 

Male steenbok, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Feeding female, Etosha National Park, Namibia. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Oreotragus

 

Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus)
The outer keratin layer on the hooves of this small antelope, which lives in rocky habitats, is rubber-like, causing them to have a tremendously firm grip on steep surfaces. It prefers rocks with growth of scattered bushes, where it can seek shelter from enemies, including eagles.

It is widely distributed, mainly in eastern and southern Africa, from eastern Sudan and Eritrea southwards through East Africa to north-eastern South Africa, and also in western Angola, Namibia, and western South Africa. Small remnant populations exist in western Central African Republic and in Nigeria. It has been observed as high as 4,500 m altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro. About 11 subspecies have been described.

 

 

The klipspringer is an animal of rocky habitats. These pictures show Cape klipspringer, subspecies oreotragus, Augrabies National Park, South Africa. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male (left) and female, Augrabies National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Resting male, Augrabies National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male Masai klipspringer, subspecies schillingsi, resting on a rocky outcrop, a so-called kopje, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Ourebia

 

Oribi (Ourebia ourebi)
This small, yellowish-brown, long-necked antelope measures a maximum of 65 cm at the shoulder and weighs up to 22 kg. The male has short, straight, almost vertical horns, to 18 cm long, whereas the female has no horns. It lives singly or in family groups in grasslands and open forest, up to an altitude of c. 2,000 m.

Eight subspecies have been described, found in the Sahel zone of central Africa, from Senegal eastwards to Ethiopia, and thence southwards through eastern Africa to north-eastern South Africa, and also in Angola, southern Zaire, and Zambia. It was described as early as 1782 by German zoologist Eberhard von Zimmermann (1743-1815), who wrote one of the first zoogeographical works, Specimen Zoologiae Geographicae Quadrupedum (1777), describing the distribution of mammals.

 

 

Male oribi, subspecies hastata, Masai Mara National Park, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male and female hastata, Lochinwar National Park, Zambia. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Subfamily Reduncinae

 

Genus Redunca

 

Bohor reedbuck (Redunca redunca)
In parts of its distribution area, the bohor reedbuck is partial to moist grasslands and swamps, elsewhere it also lives in drier savannas and woodland. It is a medium-sized antelope, males measuring up to 90 cm at the shoulder, and weighing a maximum of 65 kg. Females are somewhat smaller. Only the male has horns, which may reach a length of 35 cm.

This species is distributed across the Sahel zone of central Africa, from Senegal eastwards to Ethiopia, and thence southwards to southern Tanzania. It was first described in 1767 by Prussian naturalist Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811). Five subspecies are presently recognized.

 

 

Male bohor reedbuck, ssp. wardi, drinking from a stream, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. An Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) is seen in the background. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Females, ssp. wardi, in morning sun, Aberdare National Park, Kenya. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Grazing females, ssp. wardi, Lake Nakuru, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Genus Kobus
This genus is rather diverse, comprising six species of stocky animals, of which the waterbuck is greyish, with long pelt on the neck, whereas the other members of the genus are various shades of brown, reddish-brown, or blackish, and has short hair on the neck. Only the males have horns.

 

Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus)
The greyish waterbuck is distributed across much of sub-Saharan Africa, in the Sahel zone from Senegal eastwards to southern Sudan and western Ethiopia, and thence southwards through eastern Africa to north-eastern South Africa. There are also scattered populations in Angola, Gabon, and Congo Brazzaville.

Many subspecies have been described, divided into two main groups. Members of the ellipsiprymnus group have an elliptic white marking on the rump, which gave rise to the specific name, from the Greek ellipes (‘ellipse’) and prymnos (‘rump’). The other group is defassa, whose members have a white patch on the rump. Initially, the latter was described in 1835 by German naturalist Wilhelm Eduard Rüppell (1794-1884) as a separate species, which he named Antilope defassa, from its Amharic name. Today, however, most taxonomists regard the two groups as a single species, as they interbreed, where their ranges overlap.

Subspecies, which belong to ellipsiprymnus, are found from eastern Kenya and Tanzania southwards to north-eastern South Africa, whereas the defassa subspecies occupy the remaining distribution area.

 

 

Male common waterbuck of the ellipsiprymnus group, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Portrait of a male of the defassa group, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male and female defassa, Serengeti National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male defassa, grazing in front of a huge mixed flock of great white pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and yellow-billed storks (Mycteria ibis), Lake Nakuru, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Lechwe (Kobus leche)
Lechwe are stocky antelopes, standing up to 100 cm at the shoulder and weighing up to 120 kg. Three subspecies are distributed from eastern Angola and north-eastern Namibia eastwards through northern Botswana to Zambia and south-eastern Zaire. Lechwe have also been introduced to northern Australia.

These antelope live in marshy areas, feeding on aquatic plants. Their legs are covered in a water-repellant substance, which allows them to run quite fast in water, and thus having a greater chance of escaping from predators.

Red lechwe, subspecies leche, is widely distributed in wetlands of northern Botswana, north-eastern Namibia, and south-western Zambia. A core area is the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Kafue Flats lechwe, ssp. kafuensis, is restricted to a small area in the Kafue Flats, a seasonally inundated flood-plain on the Kafue River, south-western Zambia. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as vulnerable.

Black lechwe, ssp. smithemani, is confined to the Bangweulu Basin, northern Zambia. In former times, hundreds of thousands of these antelopes roamed the grasslands in this area, but their numbers have shrunk drastically due to uncontrolled hunting, and today there may be as few as 30,000. Only the adult male is blackish, whereas females and young are various shades of brown. Following the rainy season, when the water recedes from the flooded areas around the Bangweulu Swamps, fresh grass sprouts, and large numbers of black lechwe frequent these areas to graze.

A fourth subspecies, robertsi, called Roberts’ lechwe or Kawambwa lechwe, is now extinct. It was previously found in north-eastern Zambia.

Other antelopes are also called lechwe. The Nile lechwe (Kobus megaceros) lives in swamps and grasslands in South Sudan and northern Ethiopia, and the Upemba lechwe (Kobus anselli) is restricted to the Upemba wetlands in Zaire. It was described as late as 2005.

 

 

Red lechwe, grazing in a swamp on Chief’s Island, Okawango Delta, Botswana. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Kafue Flats lechwe, Lochinwar National Park, Zambia. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Black lechwe, Kalasa Mukoso Game Management Area, Zambia. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Female and kid black lechwe, running across a road, Kalasa Mukoso. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Puku (Kobus vardonii)
This species has a patchy distribution, found in grasslands in Angola, northern Botswana, Zambia, eastern Zaire, and southern Tanzania. Two subspecies have been described, the nominate vardonii, found in southern parts of the distribution area, and senganus further north.

 

 

Puku, ssp. senganus, Kasanka National Park, northern Zambia. The small mounds are termite nests. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Kob (Kobus kob)
This antelope resembles the impala (see below), but is more heavily built and has black markings on the forelegs. It is found in grasslands of northern central Africa, from Senegal eastwards to southern Chad, South Sudan, Uganda, and extreme north-eastern Zaire. Three subspecies are recognized, leucotis in South Sudan, thomasi in Uganda and Zaire, and kob in the remaining area.

 

 

Uganda kob males, subspecies thomasi, Virunga National Park, Zaire. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male Uganda kob, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Younger animals, Queen Elizabeth National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Running females, Queen Elizabeth National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Subfamily Aepycerotinae, genus Aepyceros

 

Impala (Aepyceros melampus)
This rather large, but slender and graceful antelope constitutes the sole member of the subfamily Aepycerotinae. The male is a magnificent animal, with lyre-shaped horns, which may reach a length of 90 cm.

This species is common in much of eastern and southern Africa. Two subspecies are recognized, the nominate, which is distributed from southern Uganda and central Kenya southwards to eastern South Africa and the major part of Namibia, and subspecies petersi, known as black-faced impala, which is restricted to north-western Namibia and south-western Angola. This subspecies can be identified by the black markings on its face.

The generic name is from the Greek aipus (‘high’ or ‘steep’) and keras (‘horn’), referring to the long horns of the male, whereas the specific name is from the Greek melas (‘black’) and pous (‘foot’), alluding to the black spots on its hind feet. The name impala is a corruption of the Tswana word phala, which means ‘red antelope’.

 

 

Male impalas are magnificent animals, as is obvious in these pictures from Samburu National Park, Kenya (top), Tarangire National Park, Tanzania (centre), and Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Sparring males, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

This male is chasing a female, sniffing her vagina to test whether she is in heat, and then mounts her. – Serengeti National Park. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Impalas, drinking from a waterhole, Chief’s Island, Okawango Delta, Botswana. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male black-faced impala, subspecies petersi, Etosha National Park, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

This cave painting near Ngomakirira, Zimbabwe, which was made by San people (‘Bushmen’), depicts hunters, pursuing an impala. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Subfamily Hippotraginae
This subfamily contains large African antelopes, which mainly feed on grasses. It includes three genera, sable and roan antelopes (Hippotragus), oryxes (Oryx), and the North African addax (Addax). The name of the subfamily is from the Greek hippos (‘horse’), alluding to the large size of these animals, and tragos (‘goat’), a name attached to many antelope species.

 

Genus Hippotragus
This genus has three members, the widespread sable antelope (H. niger) and roan antelope (H. equinus), and the extinct bluebuck (H. leucophaeus) of South Africa.

 

Sable antelope (Hippotragus niger)
This large antelope inhabits wooded savanna, from Tanzania and extreme southern Kenya southwards to northern Botswana and north-eastern South Africa, with a separate population in central Angola. Females and juveniles are chestnut to dark brown, whereas males are much darker, black in some subspecies. Both sexes have ringed horns, arching backwards, to 1 m long in females, 1.6 m in males. Four subspecies are recognized:

The southern sable, ssp. niger, also called black sable, Matsetsi sable, or South Zambian sable, occurs south of the Zambezi River, especially in northern Botswana and Zimbabwe.

The giant sable, ssp. variani, was named due to its longer horns. It is restricted to a few locations in central Angola and is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

The Zambian sable, ssp. kirkii, also known as West Tanzanian sable, occurs north of the Zambezi River, in Zambia, Malawi, south-eastern Zaire, and south-western Tanzania. It is classified as vulnerable.

The eastern sable, ssp. roosevelti, also called Shimba sable, is the smallest of the four subspecies. It occurs in a coastal belt from south-eastern Kenya southwards through Tanzania to northern Mozambique.

 

 

Male southern sable, subspecies niger, Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Genus Oryx
Oryx are four species of large antelopes, of which three are native to arid parts of Africa, whereas the fourth, the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx), is restricted to the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian oryx and the North African scimitar oryx (Oryx dammah) are both extinct in the wild, but have been saved from complete extinction through captive breeding. The Arabian oryx has been re-introduced to Oman and other places, whereas a semi-wild population of the scimitar oryx is found in Tunisia.

The generic name is from the Greek orygos (‘pickaxe’), referring to the pointed horns of these antelopes.

 

Beisa oryx (Oryx beisa)
This species, which is also called East African oryx, inhabits steppe and semi-desert from eastern Ethiopia and southern South Sudan southwards to northern Tanzania. It is probably extinct in Eritrea and Sudan. Two subspecies are recognized, the beisa oryx, subspecies beisa, which is found north of the Tana River in Kenya, and the fringe-eared oryx, subspecies callotis, distributed south of the Tana River.

 

 

Beisa oryx, subspecies beisa, Meru National Park, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Beisa oryx, Samburu National Park, Kenya. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Gemsbok (Oryx gazella)
The gemsbok closely resembles the beisa oryx, but has an entirely black tail, a black patch at the base of the tail, and more black markings on the legs and lower flanks. It lives in deserts and semi-deserts of southern Africa, in Namibia, Botswana, extreme western Zimbabwe, and north-western South Africa.

The name gemsbok (‘chamois buck’) was applied to this species by the Boer, from the Dutch name of the European chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), alluding to the somewhat similar facial pattern of these animals.

 

 

Gemsbok, passing in front of red sand dunes, Sossusvlei, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Resting gemsbok, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

After drinking at a waterhole in Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, this gemsbok is blowing water through its nostrils. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

In this picture, a male is attempting to mate with a female, drinking from a waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Cave painting, depicting hunters pursuing gemsbok, Brandberg, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Subfamily Alcelaphinae
This subfamily contains a number of rather large antelopes, including hartebeest (Alcelaphus), wildebeest (Connochaetes), and the genus Damaliscus, which includes tsessebe, topi, and bontebok.

 

Genus Alcelaphus

 

Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus)
Previously, this species was widely distributed on the entire African continent, mainly living in rather arid areas, preferably dry savannas and wooded grasslands, sometimes forming herds of up to 300 animals. The coat colour varies from pale sandy-brown to reddish or chocolate-brown, not only between the various subspecies, but also within each subspecies. Both sexes have horns, which may reach a length of up to 70 cm, shorter and more slender in females. The shape of the horns varies from lyre-shaped to almost straight, and from almost parallel to widely diverged.

The name hartebeest possibly originates from a former Afrikaans word, hertebeest, meaning deer beast. To the Boer, who named it, it seems that this antelope resembled a mixture of cow and deer. A similar case applies to the specific name buselaphus, which is derived from the Greek bous (‘cow’) and elaphos (‘deer’). The generic name is from Proto-Germanic algiz (‘moose’), and again from the Greek elaphos (‘deer’). Both names were applied by Prussian naturalist Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811), to whom this antelope apparently resembled a mixture of a cow and a moose (Alces alces).

Eight subspecies are recognized:

Northern hartebeest, ssp. buselaphus, also called bubal, is extinct. It formerly occurred across northern Africa, from Morocco to Egypt, but was exterminated in the 1920s.

Previously, the western hartebeest, ssp. major, was distributed in much of the Sahel zone in western Africa, but today it is restricted to a few protected areas.

Lelwel hartebeest, ssp. lelwel, was formerly found in much of the eastern Sahel zone, from southern Chad eastwards to western Ethiopia and Uganda. It has declined drastically since the 1980s and is now restricted to a few protected areas.

In former days, the Tora hartebeest, ssp. tora, occurred in north-western Ethiopia and western Eritrea. Its present status is unclear, and it may be extinct.

Today, Swayne’s hartebeest, ssp. swaynei, is restricted to a very small population in the southern Rift Valley in Ethiopia. Formerly, it was distributed eastwards to Somalia, where it was exterminated in the 1930s.

Kongoni, ssp. cokii, also called Coke’s hartebeest, is confined to southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. The population is rather stable.

Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, ssp. lichtensteinii, inhabits miombo woodlands from western and southern Tanzania southwards to Zambia, with scattered herds in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and eastern South Africa.

Red hartebeest, ssp. caama, also known as Cape hartebeest, was once distributed from southern Angola and eastern Namibia through most of Botswana to eastern South Africa. Today, it is confined to Namibia and central and south-western Botswana, but its numbers are on the rise in these countries.

The decline in most hartebeest populations is due to hunting and poaching for the legal as well as the illegal meat market, as its meat is highly praised.

 

 

Herd of kongoni, subspecies cokii, standing in front of eroded rocky outcrops, called kopjes, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Kongoni males, forming symmetry, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Sparring kongoni males, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Running kongoni, Hell’s Gate, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Grooming kongoni, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. This animal is so reddish that it strongly resembles Swayne’s hartebeest, which, however, only lives in Ethiopia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Red hartebeest, subspecies caama, Etosha National Park, Namibia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Connochaetes
Members of this genus are variously called wildebeest or gnu. The generic name is derived from the Greek konnos (‘beard’) and khaite (‘flowing hair’ or ‘mane’), alluding to the long, flowing beard of these animals. The name wildebeest is Afrikaans for ‘wild cow’, whereas gnu is the Khoikhoi name for these antelopes.

 

Blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus)
This species, which is also called brindled gnu, is distributed from southern Kenya southwards through eastern Africa to central Zambia, and from southern Angola and Zambia southwards to South Africa and Mozambique. The specific name means ‘bull-like’, derived from the Greek tauros (‘bull’), whereas the prefix blue refers to the bluish sheen of the coat.

Five subspecies are recognized:

The nominate blue wildebeest, ssp. taurinus, is widely distributed in southern Africa, from southern Angola and south-western Zambia southwards to central South Africa and southern Mozambique.

Cookson’s wildebeest, ssp. cooksoni, is restricted to the Luangwa Valley, Zambia.

The black-bearded wildebeest, ssp. johnstoni, also called Nyasaland wildebeest, occurs from central Tanzania southwards to northern Mozambique. It is extinct in Malawi (formerly called Nyasaland).

The eastern white-bearded wildebeest, ssp. albojubatus, lives in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, east of the Rift Valley.

The western white-bearded wildebeest, ssp. mearnsi, is found in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, west of the Rift Valley, westwards to Lake Victoria. This subspecies undertakes a spectacular annual migration, where 2 or 3 million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti Plains northwards to southern Kenya, and later vice versa.

 

 

Blue wildebeest, subspecies taurinus, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Black-bearded wildebeest, subspecies johnstoni, Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Herd of western white-bearded wildebeest, subspecies mearnsi, wandering across the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Against the light, the white beards of these wildebeest stand out clearly. In the background plains zebras (Equus quagga ssp. boehmi). – Ndutu, Serengeti National Park (top) and Ngorongoro Crater. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Wildebeest are often running about, obviously for sheer pleasure, frolicking, butting another member of the herd, or jumping on stiff legs. – Ngorongoro Crater. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

When fighting, wildebeest bulls kneel down, sparring with their horns. – Ngorongoro Conservation Area. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Wildebeest calves may suckle even when half-grown, in this case in the Ngorongoro Crater. The birds to the left are a blacksmith lapwing (Vanellus armatus) and a wattled starling (Creatophora cinerea). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

White-bearded wildebeest and plains zebras, crossing a soda lake, Ngorongoro Crater. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

During their famous annual migration, myriads of wildebeest are running down a river bank, causing huge clouds of dust to rise. – Ndutu, Serengeti National Park. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

During the annual migration, wildebeest and plains zebras quench their thirst in the Grumeti River, Serengeti National Park. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

This savanna near Ndutu, Serengeti National Park, is covered in dense masses of wildebeest, many of the dark-grey cows followed by a pale-brown calf. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou)
The black wildebeest, also called white-tailed gnu, is endemic to the southernmost part of Africa. Wild populations were almost completely exterminated in the 19th Century due to their competition with cattle, and also the value of their hide and meat. It has now been reintroduced from captive animals in Lesotho, Swaziland, and South Africa, and also outside its natural range, in Namibia and Kenya.

 

 

Black wildebeest, Karoo National Park, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Genus Damaliscus
These large antelopes, comprising three species, live in dry savanna, semi-desert, and river valleys of sub-Saharan Africa. One species, the Bangweulu tsessebe (D. superstes), was described as late as 2003. It is restricted to the Bangweulu Swamps of northern Zambia.

 

Damaliscus lunatus
This species, variously called topi, tsessebe, korrigum, or tiang, has a patchy distribution in the Sahel zone, and in eastern and southern Africa. These animals often stand on termite mounds for hours, surveying the surrounding territory – a typical behavior of this species.

The generic name is a Latin diminutive form of the Greek word damalis (‘a young cow’), whereas the specific name is from the Latin luna (‘moon’), in this connection meaning crescent-shaped, presumably referring to the shape of the horns.

Five subspecies have been described:

Common tsessebe, ssp. lunatus, is found from extreme southern Zaire southwards through eastern Angola and western Zambia to extreme north-eastern Namibia, northern and south-eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, extreme north-eastern South Africa, and south-western Mozambique.

The Serengeti topi, ssp. jimela, has a patchy distribution in Uganda, southern Kenya, and Tanzania. It is common in north-western Tanzania.

The coastal topi, ssp. topi, is restricted to a coastal strip in southern Somalia and northern Kenya.

Tiang, ssp. tiang, has a patchy distribution in the eastern half of the Sahel zone.

Korrigum, ssp. korrigum, is found in two widely separated areas of the western Sahel zone.

 

 

Common tsessebe, subspecies lunatus, standing sentry on a termite mound, Chief’s Island, Okawango Delta, Botswana. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Males of Serengeti topi, subspecies jimela, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Damaliscus pygargus
This animal is restricted to eastern and southern South Africa. Two subspecies are recognized, the bontebok, ssp. pygargus, and the blesbok, ssp. phillipsi.

Originally, the bontebok was widespread in the Western Cape Province, but was hunted almost to extinction. By the 1930s, only 22 animals survived. Since then, it has been strictly protected in several reserves, both inside and outside its former area of distribution. Today, the population counts between 1600 and 2000 individuals.

The blesbok was distributed over a large area of eastern South Africa, but, like the bontebok, it was almost exterminated due to uncontrolled hunting. Today, it has made a remarkable recovery, and the population is estimated at 120,000.

 

 

A small herd of bontebok, subspecies pygargus, lives in Table Mountain National Park, where this picture was taken. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Bontebok female and calf, Table Mountain National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Male bontebok, De Hoop Nature Reserve. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

Family Antilocapridae, genus Antilocapra

 

Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)
Another name of this animal is American antelope, which is somewhat misleading, as it is not a true antelope, but forms a separate family, Antilocapridae – a name constructed from the Greek words for antelope and goat. The name pronghorn refers to the short, straight horns, which are forked.

When the Europeans arrived in America, this species was unbelievably abundant in the West. However, uncontrolled hunting caused this iconic animal to have been almost eradicated by around 1900. Following conservation efforts in later years, it is now common again many places in the West. Today, larger or smaller herds are distributed across the western half of North America, from extreme southern Canada southwards to northern Mexico.

 

 

The pronghorn is an animal of prairies and semi-desert. This picture is from near Cody, Wyoming. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

A rain shower has drenched this pronghorn in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

(Uploaded February 2020)