Antelopes are divided into a number of
tribes that are based on common attributes found
amongst them. The Zoo has many of these tribes such
as Duikers, Gazelles, Reedbuck, Horse Antelope,
Hartebeest, Impala and Bushbuck. They can often be
seen grazing in their enclosure. A keen observer
will notice the social structure within a group and
the interaction amongst the herd.
are distinguished from other hoofed animals as
having unbranched horns. Their beautiful horns are
used as weapons in combat when males compete for
mates. Their horns are arranged in a way that two
striking males cannot crack each others skull,
making the clash of horns more ritualistic than
dangerous. The horns are better developed in species
where males fight over females. The Kudu has the
longest horns, about 180cm when measured along the
Antelopes are generally grazers and feed
mainly on grass and browse. Their social system is a
Example: Oryxs, Sable, Roan, Waterbuck, Lechwe,
Springbok and Bontebok.
Non-Territorial:. Example: Kudu, Bongo, Eland,
Buffalo, Sitatunga and Nyala.
Territorial: Example: Blue and Grey Duiker.
Solitary Non-Territorial: Example: Bushbuck.
Most Antelope live in the African savannah,
however many Antelope live in forest and some have
adapted to desert, mountainous and semi-aquatic
Antelopes are a diverse group which
varies between those that live in water, those who
are heavily dependant on water and those who are
water independent for long periods of time.
Water Dependent: Example: Red Lechwe and
Water Course Dwellers: Example:
Regular Water Drinkers: Bushbuck
Water Independent: Examples Eland, Kudu,
Springbok and Oryx.
Antelopes have to be wary of predators.
They use their keen senses, agility and camouflage
to avoid predators. Their eyes are strategically
placed on the side of their head giving them a broad
radius of vision. Their acute sense of smell and
hearing gives them the ability to perceive danger.
If under attack, Antelopes use a number of
defense strategies. Large Antelope gather in herds
and rely on numbers, running speed and mob attacks.
In some species, adults encircle their young to
protect them from predators. Forest Antelope have
large ears and their dark striped colouring allows
them to camouflage and hide away from predators.
Small Antelopes such as Duikers jump into dense bush
where predators cannot pursue them.
grassland Antelope tend to be very fast runners,
their agility and endurance are advantages against
many predators. Springbok use a defence mechanism
called stotting, they spring into the air by lifting
all four feet off the ground. Stotting is used to
show predators the Springboks fitness and
discourages its pursuit. Cheetahs are known to
abandon more hunts when a Springbok slots, and if
they do give chase, they are far less likely to make
a kill. Slotting is also used to display fitness
information to potential mates.
some of the Zoo�s Antelopes:
Bongos are the largest sociable forest
Antelopes and very distinctly marked. They have a
deep chestnut colour and bright white stripes on
their sides. This helps them camouflage and hide
from pray. Both sexes have heavy spiral horns. The
males horns are heavier and longer, as they age
their horns become darker.
In order to
maneuver through the dense vegetation, Bongos tilt
their chin up causing their horn to lie flat on
The Cape Buffalo is one of the Greater
Antelopes. They can reach a height of up to 170cm
and weigh up to 870kg. Both male and female Cape
Buffalo have horns. A characteristic feature of them
is the adult Bulls (male) horns have fused bases
which forms a continous bone shield called �boss�
the boss cannot always be penetrated even by a rifle
bullet. From the base the horns diverge and bend
down then smoothly curve upwards and outwards. The
horns of a male is larger then a female.
adage an elephant never forgets would be matched by
a buffalo never forgives. They have been known to
attack people that have harmed them even years after
Bushbuck are the only solitary
non-territorial South African Antelope. Sub adult
rams are a deep chestnut brown which darkens with
age. A few white spots on the flanks and a crest of
yellow hair runs down its back. They are the masters
of camouflage and can stay absolutely still until
the last minute. If seen all the major predators
will try to attack them, however they are efficient
at bounding through the bush.
Only the males
have horns and are significantly bigger and darker
than the females.
The bushbuck ram is
regarded by sports hunters as the most dangerous
medium-size antelope, as it will hide in the bush
after being wounded and charge the hunter when he
comes looking for it, impaling the hunter with its
These are one of the best marked Antelopes.
They are light brownish to grey tan in colour with
long black tails. A blackish stripe extends from
their chin towards the lower edge of the neck,
through the shoulder and leg along the lower flank
of each side to the blackish section of the rear
leg. They have white �socks� with a black patch on
the front of both legs. Both genders have long
straight horns. Females have longer, thinner horns
with a slight outward and rearward curve. Females
use their horns to defend themselves and their
offspring from predators, while males use their
horns to defend their territory.
have the ability to dig for plants below the surface
of sand or soil and are well adapted to desert
As with all Duiker species, the Grey Duiker
is named after their habitat. When disturbed they
make off at high speeds in a series of plunging
jumps and diving (duik-Afrikaans word meaning dive)
for cover. These small Antelopes stand at about 50cm
at the shoulder, the females are slightly taller
than the males.
Grey Duiker are resilient
when it comes to survival. It will always find a
place to hide and it will eat almost anything and
thrive on it.
The name Impala comes from the Zulu word
meaning Gazelle and is the most common Antelope in
South Africa. They have a short glossy coat which is
normally reddish brown in colour. They have lighter
flanks and white underbellies with a characteristic
'M' marking the rear, it has distinctive black and
white stripes running down the rump and tail. Only
the males have horns which can reach up to 45-92cm
Known for their leaps, Impala can jump about
10 feet high and when running about 33 feet ahead.
Greater Kudus have a brown/bluish grey to
reddish brown coat. They have between 4-12 vertical
white stripes along their bodies. Their head is
darker in colour then the rest of their body with a
small white chevron which runs between their eyes.
Only the males have horns and are larger than
the females in size. When straightened their horns
cab reach an average length of 120cm. Their horns do
not begin to grow until the male is between the age
of 6-12 months old, their horns begin to twist at
the age of 2 and at the age of 6 their horns reach a
full two and a half twists. Occasionally the horns
reach 3 full turns.
This spiral horned Antelope is native to
Southern Africa. The females and juveniles have a
rusty brown coat. As the males grow older their coat
becomes dark brown or grey tinged with blue. Females
and young males have ten or more white stripes on
their sides. Only the males have horns which are
60-83cm long and yellow tipped.
scientific name for the Nyala is Nyala Angasii.
Angasii is named after the French artist and
naturalist George French Angas.
The Sitatunga stands at about one and a
half metres at the shoulder and have a water-proof
coat. Males have a dark brown coat while females are
reddish brown coat. Both sexes have white stripes
and spots as well as white splotches on their faces.
Only males have horns which are twisted and can
reach almost 1m in length.
water specialist, they can outrun predators in water
with the aid of their splayed hooves.They are also
vulnerable to human and other predators, they form
permanent pathways in the swamps which are easily
Lord Derby Eland
Also known as the Giant Eland, this is the
largest species of antelope in the world. They have
a body length between 2.2 and 3.45 m, a tail length
of 90 cms, and they weigh between 300 and 1,000 kgs.
Depending on their sex, Giant Elands differ greatly
in size, males can grow to almost double the weight
of females, and can reach up to 1.8 m at the
The coat of the Giant Eland is
reddish-brown in colour and is usually darker in
males. The torso features 8 -12 well defined
vertical white stripes. The colour of the male's
coat darkens with age, and it has been stated that
the darkness of the coat reflects the levels of
androgen in the body. Androgen is a male hormone
which is highest during rutting.
and females have tightly spiraled, 'V'-shaped horns.
They can be up to 123 cm long on males, and 66 cm on
females. Males have horns that are thicker at the
ends, longer, and more divergent than those of
Giant Eland can move quickly,
running at over 43 mph, and despite their size are
exceptional jumpers, easily clearing heights of 1.5
The Giraffe holds the record as the worlds
tallest animal. Distinguished by its long neck and
legs, a fully grown Giraffe can stand at 5-6metres
tall. Male are taller then females.
Giraffes coat is made of dark patches which can be
orange to chestnut brown or nearly black, these
patches are separated by light white or cream colour
hair. Male Giraffes become darker as they age. Each
Giraffe has a unique coat pattern much like a human
Both males and females have horn
like structures called ossicones, this is formed by
ossified cartlidge covered in skin and fused to the
skull. The ossicones of the female and young are
thin and have tufts of hair on the top. The
ossicones on males end in knobs and are usually bold
on the top. As the males' age their skulls become
heavier and more club like, this helps them become
more dominant in combat.
The name Giraffe has its
earliest origins in the Arabic word zarafa which is
translated into 'fast walker'
The Blackbuck is well known for their large
horns which generally curl about five times and have
pronounced ridges near the tips. Their horns are
50-61cm long with the record being 71.5cm.
is a striking contrast between males and females.
Both genders start out as a light brown, but at
around two years of age the males slowly darken to a
rich chocolate or black colour. Both genders have
white stripe along their chest and underside, but
only the males have the long twisted horn that the
Blackbuck is famously known for.
Blackbuck is also only surviving species of the
Antelope population. Their ancestor, including the
Antilope intermedius, Antilope subtorta, and
Antilope planicornis, are all extinct, leaving only
a few fossilized remains behind.
The Bontebok is a medium-sized, generally
dark brown antelope with a prominent, wide white
blaze on its face. Their hair is soft and has an
iridescent sheen, It has a pure white rump, belly
and hocks, and black-tipped tail. Both sexes have
horns, although the horns of the male are heavier
and longer than those of females. The horns of
Bontebok are lyre-shaped and clearly ringed and can
reach a length of half a metre.
The Bontebok was
once considered to be the rarest antelope in the
world but careful conservation has ensured its
survival. Today the Bontebok is only found in
protected areas in South Africa.
not good jumpers, but they are very good at crawling
under things. Mature males form territories and face
down other males in displays and occasionally
Common Eland can be found in parts of
Southern Africa and extends north into Ethiopia,
parts of Sudan, Angola and Namibia. Their coats
differ geographically, Eland in North Africa have
stripes on their torso, markings on their legs, dark
garters and a spinal crest. Eland in the south do
not have these markings. Females have a tan coat
while males are darker bluish-grey tinge. As males
age they coats become grey, Males also have dense
fur on their forheads and a large dewlap on their
Both sexes have horns which is
visible at birth and grow rapidly during the first
6-7 months. The horns of males are thicker and
shorter than the females and have a tighter spiral.
The eland is the largest African bovid, but the
slowest antelope. It can only run about 25 mph, but
it can jump 10 feet from a standing start.
Red Lechwe have a golden brown coat with
white bellies and white patches around their eyes.
The males are darker than the females and have long
spiral almost lyre shaped horns. Their hind leg is
longer than other Antelopes and is covered in a
water repellent substance which allows them to run
fast in knee length water.
This robust long
haired Antelope is a fast swimmer and will not
hesitate to dive into water if it is being pursued.
The Arabian Oryx is a graceful, white
antelope with black markings on the face and legs.
The white coat reflects the sun and the dark legs
absorb heat from the ground during cold mornings. A
short mane runs from head to shoulders; the tail is
tufted, and males sport a tuft on the throat. Both
sexes have long, straight horns which are about
22-58 inches in length. The Arabian Oryx is keen
sighted, wary and alert, and defends itself by
lowering its head so the horns point forward.
Arabian Oryx were hunted as trophies and by 1972
disappeared from the wild. In 1982 Arabian Oryx bred
in captivity were reintroduced into the wild.
Reintroduction continues today with the goal of
restoring the Arabian Oryx back in the wild.
Scimitar Horned Oryx
Scimitar Horned Oryx are mostly white with
reddish brown necks and marks on the face and a
long, dark, tufted tail. The white coat helps
reflect the heat of the desert.
distinctive feature are the two scimitar or
sickle-shaped horns. Found in both sexes, these
virtually ridgeless, thin horns curve up and over
the back, growing 100-125 cm in length. Due to their
thinness, the horns are fairly fragile and are prone
Scimitar Horned Oryx have an
interesting way of coping with a water shortage.
They are able to raise their body temperature by
several degrees to conserve water by avoiding
An elegant antelope of Africa's grasslands,
the southern reedbuck can be identified by the
distinctive dark lines that run down the front of
each of its forelegs and lower hindlegs. The colour
of its coat varies between light brown to
greyish-brown, often turning lighter on the neck and
chest. White fur defines the underparts and area
around the lips and chin, while a distinctive black
patch below each ear is the site of a gland. The
short, bushy tail is white on its underside. Only
Male southern reedbucks have forward-curving horns,
which measure between 30 and 45 centimetres, and are
ridged for most of their length except for the
The southern reedbuck makes a
number of characteristic noises, including a
piercing whistle through the nostrils, and a
distinctive 'popping' sound, caused by the inguinal
glands which is heard when the southern reedbuck
The handsome Sable Antelope is the national
animal of Zimbabwe. The females are chestnut to dark
brown, darkening as they mature, while males are
distinctively black. Both sexes have white
underbellies, white cheeks and white chins. They
have shaggy manes on the back of their necks. Sable
antelope have ringed horns which arch backward, in
females these can reach 1 m, but in males they can
reach over 1.1 m. Males are larger then females.
Sable Antelopes are aggressive when it comes to
danger. Other antelope back off meekly when the
Sable Antelope approaches, and spotted hyaenas, wild
dogs, cheetahs and leopards are very reluctant to
challenge this courageous and dangerous fighter.
Even lions have been known to come off second best;
gored to death by those deadly horns.
The Springbok is an Afrikaans/Dutch name.
Spring meaning Jump and Bok meaning Buck.
Their striking body colour makes them easily
recognizable. They have a cinnamon coloured upper
body, white underparts and a broad dark brown stripe
on either flank stretching from the front legs to
the rear legs. The short white tail is brown tufted.
The rump is marked by a triangular-shaped white
patch, framed by a dark brown stripe with the apex
on the top of the hindquarters. Horns of females are
more slender and shorter than those of males.
The Springbok is a symbol of the South African
National rugby team. It can leap up to 9m in the air
when startled and can run at speeds of 60mph
Despite their name, Waterbuck are not fond
of swimming. They are found near water and will only
wade into the water to hide from predators.
is a large, robust antelope. Males have a shoulder
height of 1.4 metres and can weigh up to 260 Kg.
Females are smaller. Waterbucks have a brownish-grey
shaggy coat. The eyes and nose are patched with
white, and there is a white collar under the throat.
The rump has a characteristic white ring. The large
rounded ears are a prominent feature. Only the males
have long, forward curved horns which are ringed and
can grow up to 1metre long in the oldest male. Both
sexes emit a pleasant, musky smell which normally
lingers at resting sites.