Greater Antelope Facts | Southern Africa Wildlife Guide
All antelope are ruminants. They have four stomachs for fodder in varying stages of digestion, and like domestic cattle, they reprocess already-swallowed fodder by chewing the cud.
HABITATAntelope live in almost all African habitats. Anywhere that humans have not extensively broken the soil, wild herbivores can be seen. Wildebeest and their alcelaphinid relatives favor open and wooded grassland, as there is more cover from predators. Impalas, however, prefer woodlands, and some duiker species prefer living in thick, almost rain-forest-type vegetation. Riverine strips and transition zones between vegetation types are also used by some species.
Gazelle have adapted to a wide range of habitats, from arid to semi-arid—and in the case of springbok and some Grant’s subspecies they have adapted to watered grassland, as preferred by the Thomson’s gazelle. Roan and sable inhabit grasslands that have good bush and tree cover, and both frequent well-watered grasslands and wooded valleys. In contrast, oryx prefer an arid habitat and can live in total desert conditions. Interestingly, as is the case with the steenbok, oryx (or gemsbok as they are known in Southern Africa) are also water-independent.
All species of
In general, tragelaphinae live at low densities in arid to sub-humid areas, favoring regions of thick cover such as shady, broken forest and bushland. This is true of the greater kudu and nyala. Two notable exceptions are eland, which frequent open grasslands and often roam as high as 14,850 feet, and the long-hoofed sitatunga, which live in swamps and marshy lakesides throughout eastern Africa. Small antelope live in a wide range of habitats, from forests to thickets, to kopjes, rock outcrops and open grasslands.
Both steenbok and duiker pair for life and remain territorial. Territory sizes may vary from 165 to 1,650 feet in diameter, depending on the season and local conditions. Such relatively small territories allow the animals to know precisely the location and season for food plants, the best escape routes
Waterbuck, puku, lechwe and various species of reedbuck live in small, loose associations of adult females and young, moving through a world of male-dominated territories. Groups are rarely larger than 10 to 15 animals. Lechwe exhibit a variation on the territorial theme. They establish a “lek,” or territorial breeding ground, where a group of dominant males display and mate with females. Gestation lasts about nine months before a single calf is dropped.
In the subfamily
An eland group is usually made up of a few females and young, with a loosely territorial adult male in attendance. This male is the one that will eventually mate with the group’s females. Females reach sexual maturity at age 3. During conception peaks, small groups will aggregate into groups of hundreds of elands, which can be considered somewhat migratory, as they move over great distances.
Hippostraginae (roan, sable
Photo Credit: Eric Rock