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Plains Grazer of South Africa

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The open and wooded grasslands and bushlands of East and Central Africa support the most splendid variety of small, medium and large herbivores in the world. All are members of the family Bovidae to which our domestic livestock also belong. “Small” in this context means about the size of a large dog, “medium” means about the size of a pony; “large” means like a small horse; “very large herbivores” are the really big whitish underneath, and a white rump. Males are larger than females, have better developed S-shaped horns, a black-white blaze on their flanks, and a black-tipped, constant wagging tail. The main species are Grant’s gazelle (Gazella granti), Soemmering’s gazelle (G. soemmerringi), Thomson’s gazelle (G. thomsoni), Dorcas gazelle (Gdorcas), gerenuk (Litocranius walleri), dibatag or Clarke’s gazelle, (Ammodorcas clarkei), and the springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis). Dibatag and gerenuk differ from the rest in having conspicuously long, slender necks.

Hippotraginae include the medium to large, thick necked, “horse-like” antelopes ones, like elephants, buffalos and giraffe. Alcelaphines are long-faced, rather foolish looking, medium sized antelopes with S-shaped, ridged horns and sloping backs. They include the spectacular Serengeti migrating wildebeest or gnu (Connochaetes taurinus), hartebeest or kongoni (Alcelaphus buselaphus), topi or tiang (Damaliscus lunatus), hirole or Hunter’s hartebeest (Beatragus hunterii) and impala or swara (Aepyceros melampus).

There are some 20 species and subspecies of gazelles in the Antilopini family. All have the same general appearance with slender bodies, long legs, fawn-colouration on top, that sport impressively long, swept-back or straight horns. They include: roan (Hippotragus equinus), sable (H. niger), oryx (Oryx gazella) and the virtually extinct addax (Addax nasomaculatus). The broad chested Hippotraginae run with powerful. sure-footed strides, hence the name “Horselike antelopes”. Roan’s Latin name belabours the point: “horse-like horned horse-. Reduncinae are medium-sized antelopes whose males have somewhat lyre-shaped horns. Their coats are usually coarse, brown to reddish-brown to beige, usually with a white chevron at the throat.

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