About African Antelopes

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Antelopes of South Africa

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These antelopes can best be divided into two separate groups, the medium to larger ones, known as Tragelaphinae (eland also belong to this group) and the dwarf and small antelopes.

Tragelaphinae are slender, round-backed, longish-necked antelopes, russet to grey-brown in colour, often with vertical white stripes or line of dots on their sides and flanks. They have short-cropped pelage and a delicate, high-stepping gait. An erectable crest occurs on the back of the bushbuck. Males have horns and their colour is oftenalso vulnerable to smaller cats, such as servals, caracals, golden cats and other predators such as rock python and crocodile. When threatened, animals emit a sharp bark as an alarm. Most rely on flight for protection.

The basic groups are made up of females and immature animals, with an adult male in attendance. Group numbers vary from two to three in bushbucks reaching a maximum of about 10 to 15 in lesser kudus.

The onset of female sexual maturity is around 18 months. Males continue to grow beyond sexual maturity, so that the differences in body size between the sexes becomes gradually more striking. darker or more grey.

Members of this group are: eland (Taurotragus oryx), bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), lesser kudu (T. imberbis), nyalas (Tragelaphus buxtoni), greater kudu (T. T. strepsiceros), and bongo (T. T. euryceros).

They live at low densities in sub-humid areas, in regions of thick cover, such as forest (bongo), bushland (bushbuck, lesser kudu, nyala) and hill thickets (greater kudu, mountain nyala). They are all diurnal, although bushbucks will become nocturnal in areas of persecution.

All species are preyed upon by the obvious large carnivores and the smaller species are a single calf is born after a gestation of about six months. Calves are weaned at about three to four months.

Tragelaphinae are very selective browsers and pluckers. This allows them to have a highly nutritious diet. Fruits, seeds, pods, flowers, bark and tubers are taken as well as leaves.

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