Natural Habitat Adventures

Know Before You Go

Greater Antelope Facts | Southern Africa Wildlife Guide

Africa’s open grasslands and wooded bushlands support the most splendid biodiversity of small, medium and large antelope in the world. All are members of the Bovidae family, which also claims our domestic livestock. Bovidae can be divided into four basic categories including grazers (wildebeest and hartebeest), selective grazers (steenbok, oribi, waterbuck, reedbuck, roan, sable and oryx), grazers and browsers (tsessebe, impala, eland and gazelles) and browsers (bushbuck and kudu).

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.

HABITAT

Antelope 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 reduncinae antelope prefer wetlands or tall, tussocked, marshy grasslands. Even hillside-living reedbuck are associated with wet grasslands and hill marshes.

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.

BREEDING

Some male antelopinae (including gazelles such as springbok) and alcelaphinae (including wildebeest and tsessebe) are territorial during the breeding season. Males set up their territories and try to prevent females from leaving, despite a tendency to want to move on when the grass supply is diminishing.

Springbok and impala are rarely seen alone, except for the occasional territorial male forlornly standing his ground after the breeding season. Most herds are made up of less than 100 animals. Interestingly, antelope breeding season is synchronized with the onset of the rains. In fact, impala are so adept at predicting the rains that they will hold off delivering their young for over two weeks after birth is due, should the rains be late. This is a remarkable feat, considering that impala have an exact gestation period of six months. During the “bush babies” safari season (usually early December), once the rains have arrived, one may see young of all the antelope species.

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 and the most effective hiding places. Sexual maturity may be reached in less than a year. Gestation lasts about six months, therefore, two births a year are possible with a relatively constant food supply. Before it is 2 years old, the young animal will leave its parents’ territory.

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 tragelaphinae, the onset of female sexual maturity begins at 18 months old. Males continue to grow beyond sexual maturity, so that the difference between the sexes becomes gradually more striking. A single calf is born after a gestation of about six months. Calves are weaned at 3 to 4 months old.

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 and oryx) have a system of matriarchal hierarchy, resulting in small herds of five to 20 animals, with varying degrees of male participation. In sable, female herds range over adjacent male territories. In roan, a single male accompanies the females; in oryx, male groups satellite females for most of the year, but only the dominant male will mate.

Photo Credit: Eric Rock
See Antelopes on These African Safaris
Repeater Layout : vertical-2up
Epic Botswana & Namibia Safari
New Itinerary!

Epic Botswana & Namibia Safari

From Namibia's towering dunes and desert rhinos to Botswana's wildlife-rich Okavango Delta and on to Victoria Falls, this luxury expedition is Southern Africa's ultimate safari.
16 Days / Jun–Nov
From $24995 (+air)
Limited to 7 Travelers

Countries: Botswana, Namibia & Zambia
New Itinerary!
The Great Namibia Wildlife Safari
New Itinerary!

The Great Namibia Wildlife Safari

From coastal desert to soaring dunes and rocky gorges, Namibia showcases some of Africa's most diverse geography and remarkable wildlife—see it from our secluded luxury camps.
10 Days / Jun–Oct
From $11995 (+air)
Limited to 7 Travelers

Countries: Namibia
New Itinerary!
Know Before You Go

Get Weekly Updates

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more.
Privacy Policy
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS
Natural Habitat & WWF Discovering Our Planet Together
WWF Logo

Request Your 2022 Catalog

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Nathab 2022 Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Request Your 2022 Catalog
| Privacy Policy
Continued - Page 2 of 2
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:
Thank you for requesting a catalog
Success! We’ve received your request. If you have any questions about our trips, please feel free to contact an Adventure Specialist today by calling 800-543-8917.

Get Weekly Updatess

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list!

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Send Us a Message

Send Us a Message

Have a question or comment? Use the form to the right to get in touch with us.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Us a Message
| Privacy Policy
Thank you for your message

We’ll be in touch soon with a response.

Refer a Friend

Refer a Friend
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Refer a Friend
Thank you for the referral!

We've received your friend's information.

View Our 2022 Digital Catalog

View Our 2022

Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info in the form to the right.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
View Digital Catalog
| Privacy Policy
Happy browsing!

Thanks for requesting access to our digital catalog. Click here to view it now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Alaska Adventures

Alaska Adventures

Canada & the North

Canada & the North

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Adventures

Photography Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

/know-before-you-go/african-safaris/southern-africa/wildlife-guide/great-antelope/