The rainforests, savannahs, and grasslands of Africa provide suitable habitat to various antelope species, each with their distinct characteristics. The African continent is home to more antelopes than anywhere else in the world. Read on to find out about some common antelope species of Africa.
These large African antelopes belong to the Bovidae family. They have large backs, striped bodies, curved horns, and fluffy manes. Each year, Africa plays host to the Great Migration, where millions of these creatures make their journey from Serengeti to Masai Mara in search of fresh grazing grounds. Two types of Wildebeest exist in Africa-
Blue Wildebeest: The blue wildebeest is dark grey, with black tails and dark bears. Blue wildebeest prefer woodlands, desert areas, and open grasslands.
Black Wildebeest: They are smaller, with a brownish-black body and distinctive white tail. They prefer the open grasslands of South Africa.
These large antelopes reach up to 1.6 meters at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 300 kg. Even carrying so much weight, these antelopes are slender and can jump over high obstacles. Kudus are distinctive thanks to their uniquely shaped horns. They can use these horns for defense if they feel threatened. Kudus inhabit riverine forests, lowlands, woodlands, hills, and mountains. There are two types of Kudu in Africa, Greater Kudu, and Lesser Kudu. You can differentiate them by observing the number of stripes on their body; Greater Kudus have just 6 or 7, while lesser Kudus can have up to 14. Greater Kudus are the most common in Africa, while Lesser Kudus are just confined to East Africa.
These are the largest antelope species in the world, and they can weigh as much as 900 kilograms, almost as much as Cape Buffalo! They have a large shoulder hump and tightly spiraled horns. Despite their size, Elands have great endurance and can jump obstacles as high as 1.5 meters. They prefer open plains, savannahs, woodlands, and semi-arid regions. Africa is home to two subspecies of Eland- The Common Eland and the Greater Eland. These antelopes are reserved and gentle; Elands don’t even charge if they’re cornered. This might explain why they become easy targets for poaching and habitat loss. Their numbers have steadily declined in the past few years.
These antelopes, belonging to the horse antelope tribe, are powerfully built, compact, and sturdy. They have thick necks and erect manes, and when they stand with their heads held high and tails outstretched, they look like horses. These gregarious animals live in the savannah woodlands of Africa. Both males and females have sharp horns and beautiful black-and-white markings on their heads. Primarily, they inhabit the enclosed zones of the Kruger National Park. They also reside in other protected areas where their population was reintroduced recently. Their distinctive horns and marked skin have made Sables an attractive trophy for hunters. Poaching in recent years has led to a decline in their populations.
Impalas are one of the most commonly found antelope species in Africa. They weigh between 40 to 75 kgs and grow up to a meter long. These medium-sized antelopes roam the savannah and light woodlands of the southern and eastern regions of Africa. They have reddish-brown hair, white fur under the chin, ears, on the eyes, lips, and belly. Impalas are the most graceful and athletic of all antelopes. They can jump as high as 3 meters and as far as 10 meters. This helps them evade predators by jumping off high obstacles. These diurnal animals are most active in early mornings and right before sunset.
Nyala is a slender antelope and a member of the spiral-horned antelope tribe. This species displays sexual dimorphism, i.e., males and females are significantly different in appearance. Males stand a meter tall and can weigh up to 125 kgs, while females are smaller and weigh about 58 kgs. Mature males are charcoal gray, shaggy, and have a long fringe from throat to hindquarters. Females have short and bright chestnut coats with a striped torso and spotted chest, cheeks, and legs. These cover-dependent antelopes occupy dense woodlands near water sources. Their diverse diet includes grass, broad-leaved plants, and different tree barks. Unlike many other antelopes, they are neither fast nor strong. Their primary defense is camouflage, which is why they hide in the forests.
Also known as “Oryx”, these majestic creatures inhabit the desert regions of Southern Africa. They have a compact, muscular body with a thick horse-like neck and a short mane. Built like a pony and possessing incredible endurance and strength, these animals live off on the sparsely available vegetation and water. In this way, they are well-suited to survive the harsh conditions of the Namibian desert. Their low metabolism allows them to survive long periods without drinking. Gemsbok reaches a height of 1.2 meters at the shoulder. Males can weigh as much as 300 kgs while females weigh between 100 to 200 kgs. These social animals move in groups of 50 to 200 members.
One of the largest African antelopes, the Roan is a member of the horse-antelopes tribe. The Roan is named for its reddish-brown color. Their distinctive black-and-white facial markings set them apart from other species. The Roan is powerfully built, with sturdy limbs and a thick neck. It has a long head and long, tasseled ears. Males weigh about 280 kgs, while females weigh around 260 kgs. Roans occupy the deciduous woodlands in the northern savannah and most of the regions of the southern savannah. These animals are semi-social and prefer being active during morning and evening. Typically, they roam in herds of 6 to 15 members, but herds can get as big as 35 individuals. These animals can run up to 55 kilometers per hour.
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