- A-Z Animals
Antelope, belonging to the species of even-toed ungulate, is indigenous to parts of Eurasia and Africa. They are, however, not taxonomically defined. Being excellent jumpers, even the large-sized ones like the eland, kudu, or nilgai, can leap to a height of 2.4m.
There are 91 species of antelopes occurring in approximately 30 genera. Presently, about 25 of these species are known to be endangered.
Size: They show diversity when it comes to size. For instance, male species of Common eland have a shoulder-length of about 70 inches (178cm), while the Royal antelope is only 9.4 inches (24 cm) long. The Dik-dik, on the other hand, has a size of about 15 inches. Males have a larger size than their female counterparts, with exceptions in species like oribi, dwarf antelope, bush duiker, and Cape grysbok.
Weight: Some are heavily built, like the Common eland, weighing about 2090lb (950 kg). The small-sized Royal antelope weighs only 3.3 lb (1.5 kg).
Color: They appear in different shades of gray and brown. Some may even have light or dark markings on their body or face. The presence of sexual dimorphism remains prominent in certain species. For instance, the male sable antelope has a black coat and white underbellies. The females, on the other hand, possess a chestnut or sorrel body. The Addax antelope’s coat is creamy in summer and grayish-brown in winter.
Eyes: They have big eyes, placed on both sides of the head, helping them to acquire a clear vision.
Ears: Their ears are long, being about 51/2 to 6 inches in length.
Horns: The horns are one of their most prominent features, with the shape and size differing from one species to the other. Dwarf and dulker antelopes have spiked horns, which are straight and upright for the former and backward and curved for the latter. The Common eland, kudu, nyala, and bongo have spiraled horns. Oryx possess thin, straight horns, whereas, it is pointed and curved in the wildebeest.
Hooves: All have hooves, with the size and shape depicting the ecological requirements of individual species. The Klipspringer has small, round hooves, while in the Addax it is flat and wide.
Legs: They are long, muscular, and slender, contributing to their graceful movements and excessive speed.
Tails: Their tails are short, with markings.
Teeth: They have well-developed molars, but lack upper incisors. Instead, an upper gum pad of a hard texture is visible, which helps them in the food consumption process.
They are majorly found in Africa, in the savannah regions, with about 20 to 35 species inhabiting the eastern parts of the continent. Many of them occur in Asia, with antelopes like the blackbuck, chinkara, and nilgai dwelling in different parts of India. Saiga and Tibetan antelope exist in Central Asia and Russia. However, there are no species in Antarctica and Australasia. Of late many of them have been exported to other places, particularly the United States, for game hunting.
Their habitat mostly includes savannah grasslands. However, some species inhabit forests (bongo), woodlands, rocky terrains (Klipspringer) as well as hot and cold deserts (Arabian oryx, Addax)). Some of them, like the sitatunga, are semi-aquatic, inhabiting wetlands and swamps. Those dwelling in the bushes, forests or woodlands, have a sedentary life. However, antelopes of the plain lands mostly migrate in search of food.
Their lifespan in the wild remains unpredictable with most of them living for 8 to 10 years on average. In captivity, they may survive for more than 20 years.
Most antelopes are herbivores, eating bushes, grass as well as small trees. Certain species of the duiker antelope are exceptions, thriving on small mammals, birds, and insects. The feeding pattern varies from one kind to the other, with the Addax following the rains and traveling across long distances in search of new plants. Duiker goes after flocks of birds and monkeys with the desire for eating the fruits dropped by them.
They attain sexual maturity between six and eight months, with males witnessing a slower development than females.
Their mating strategies are unique, varying from one species to the other. Smaller varieties like dik-diks are monogamous. They dwell in forests and are unable to find more than a single female under such circumstances. Lechwes adopt the lek breeding technique with males assembling in a designated territory and giving their best show in front of the females so that the latter may select them.
They have a gestation period of four to nine months, and the females move away from her herd before giving birth. She mostly chooses a protective place for the purpose, like an isolated thicket or a secluded rock. Mostly a single calf is born, though there may be a possibility of twins in occasional cases. Post-birth the mother, hides her calf in a protected shelter and returns to her herd. She may get back to nurse her kid after dusk or sometimes even during the day. The young ones move on their own about one or five weeks after which they join their mother. In species like the gnu and hartebeest, the calves get on their feet in a few minutes after birth, joining their mother in no time.
According to the IUCN, 25 of the antelope species are on the verge of extinction. Few of them like the Addax, Ader’s Duiker, and Saiga are Critically Endangered. The Scimitar Horned Oryx has already been extinct in the wild since 2000, though efforts of its revival are on. The primary reasons for the depletion in their numbers include loss of habitat, competition regarding their grazing land with cattle species, as well as hunting. Conservation efforts have been undertaken, to safeguard them from poaching and help in an increase in their numbers.
1. What are male and female antelopes called?
A buck and doe.
2. What are baby antelopes called?
3. Do female antelopes have horns?
In most of the species, both males and females have horns, with that of the latter’s being larger. However, in certain kinds like suni, red lechwe, and sitatunga, the females come without horns.
4. Are they domesticated?
It is difficult to domesticate them since they have the innate jumping ability and may escape at the slightest available opportunity. They are even territorial and could prove harmful to humans. However, at present, species like eland, springbok, and kudu are tamed and kept in captivity.
5. What is a group of antelope called?
6. Is pronghorn an antelope?
No, it belongs to the artiodactyl family, though its colloquial name in North America is American antelope.
7. What is the difference between an antelope and a gazelle?
Gazelles are smaller than antelopes, and both the males and females have horns. In antelopes, many female species are devoid of horns.
8. Is cloud antelope real?
No, it is perceived as a mythical creature.
9. Which is the smallest antelope?
The Royal antelope, which is also known for its beautiful body.
10. What is the scientific name of an antelope?