African Antelope

There are more antelope in Africa than any other continent. Of the world’s 91 antelope species, most are native to Africa, and all belong to the family Bovidae. Here are a few of my favorites.

Many continents do not have native antelope: Europe, Australasia, Antarctica and the Americas.

What a beautiful, natural sight it is, then, to observe antelope grazing and leaping across Africa’s savannahs.

They vary tremendously in size.

Larger antelope include the kudu and waterbuck.

Antelope horns vary also. Unlike deer antlers, antelope horns grow continuously and are never shed.

The horns are used as weapons, especially when fighting among their own species.

Sometimes both genders of a species have horns, with the male horns often bigger; but there are variations. In kudus, only the males have horns.

Beisa Oryx, below, have incredibly long horns.

We were lucky one day to come across this elegant sable with its pronounced horns and velvet-black coat. The birds on his back are oxpeckers, they’re taking care of his ticks.

Although all antelope in Africa are speedy out of necessity, the medium- and smaller-sized species are especially fast. Open-grassland species are agile and have powerful legs, endurance.

You can see how fine this impala’s lithe body and long legs are–he runs like the wind.

But no matter how fast they are, they are prey to many other fast, wild beasts. The young antelope are especially vulnerable. And cheetahs are the fastest land animal on earth.

Another antelope species, the wildebeest, migrates across the continent. They travel in impressively large herds, giving them protection from predators. Serengeti Migration Wikipedia.

While most antelope prefer grassland habitat, species like this klipspringer, below, prefer rocky habitats.

Wildlife on the African savannah are beautiful, even elegant, but they are also tough. They come in all sizes, with and without horns, and grace the grasslands, rocky cliffs, and waterways of this immense continent.

How lucky we are to share this planet with such a diverse family.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

82 thoughts on “African Antelope

  1. Wow, what a cool and informative post, Jet. I did not realize that all of these different species were considered to be antelopes–the wildebeest was the biggest surprise. The horn variations are amazing to see, with so many different sizes and variations (I also didn’t know that antelopes don’t shed their horns). It’s nice to see what a real impala looks like–I was familiar only with the Chevrolet version.

    I grew up singing “Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play…” and was shocked as an adult to learn that there are no antelopes in North America–the song probably refers to pronghorns.

    • I so enjoyed all your discoveries and revelations, Mike. Long ago my mother had a Chevy Impala and it ran like the wind, too. I remember that you are a singer, and enjoyed your story about the song. And you’re right, the pronghorn is even sometimes called “America’s antelope,” but it is not a true antelope. (It is the only surviving member of the Antilocapridae family.) And I, too, was surprised to learn the wildebeest is in the antelope family. I’m delighted to have shared the African antelopes with you today, thanks for your visit, Mike.

  2. That last photo of a mixed herd is wonderful, Jet! Well done on the photos, Athena!! I had no idea there were that many species of antelope and was surprised that the wildebeest was even one. They all seem to have their own uniqueness with coloring and striping, but for sure with those array of horns. Interesting they don’t shed their horns either!

    • Yes, I agree, Donna, the variety of antelope species is astounding in Africa, and there’s so many more than I could fit in here. I’m smiling that I could share this information and Athena’s photos with you, thanks so much for taking it all in.

  3. Beautiful animals and fascinating. I always enjoy seeing our American antelope in the wild. Great pics as usual. Hope you aren’t being impacted harshly by the rains. Crazy weather this month!

    • Hi Ingrid, great to “see” you. I, too, love seeing the pronghorn in this country, I always feel so lucky when one zips by me. I’m glad you enjoyed the antelopes today. And we’ve not been harshly impacted by the rain, it’s been great to get the rain. Sending thanks and warm smiles your way….

  4. What an amazing variety! So many colors, shapes, and sizes. As I was reading I was imagining having those giant horns on my head… sounds heavy and awkward πŸ˜‚

    • You bring up a good point, Diana, about the heaviness of those antelope horns. I find when I’m watching these antelope, my eyes are on the horns the most, and I’m wondering the same thing. But each antelope carries themselves gracefully and never shows their horns to be a burden or awkward. It’s quite amazing. Thanks so much for your visit and comment.

  5. jet I had no idea there were so many species of antelope. When we were on safari in South Africa, it seemed that they did a lot of running and were served up regularly as lunch for many. such is the cycle of nature I know. Stunning photos and I especially loved seeing the oxpeckers at work. Sending our best to you and Athena across the miles.

    • Hi Sue. Lovely to have you stop by, and thanks for sharing what you experienced with antelope on your trip. And you’re right, they do a lot of running, and they have a lot to run from. There is much beauty to the African savannahs, but there is no denying that it is a brutal place, too. It is fun to watch the oxpeckers, and that photo of them on the sable is espec. nice because most mammals that the oxpeckers are on are usually brown or tan, and they kind of blend in. Whereas the sable’s black back made the oxpeckers stand out. Always a great treat to see you, my friend, thanks so much.

  6. Good morning Jet, So wonderful to witness the great many animals that are still thriving in Botswana and elsewhere in Africa. I mean to actually see them running about, oh my, how thrilling is that!
    You are a gem for putting a gleam in our hearts.

  7. Dear Jet
    Thanks a lot for sharing all these infos about antelops and Athena’s pictures as well.
    All the best. Keep well
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  8. This is a very enjoyable and informative natural history of the African antelope. Jet. I had no idea there were so many species in Africa and also thought the Pronghorn was an American Antelope only to learn that it is not even an antelope. As they don’t shed their horns, do some eventually have them grow to unwieldy lengths? And I am wondering if the longer horns make for more attractive mates. Must be pretty exciting to watch the males jousting over females and territory.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the African antelope post today, Steve. Of all the antelope I have seen in Africa, I have never seen unwieldy long horns, nor have I seen the males jousting. I have read that when they do joust, they cannot crack each other’s skulls. As I thought more about it, I realized I had also never seen an antelope with one horn broken off. Elephants sometimes have a broken tusk, but I’ve never seen antelope with broken horns. Thanks for your visit, Steve.

  9. How exciting to have been able to travel to Africa and see so many of them. I’ve only seen some of these and all in captivity. Thanks for sharing your trip, and the information was really interesting and the images are wonderful.

  10. I was excited to spot that sable in my reader today. Great post about the African antelopes. Our pronghorn really isn’t one, but everyone calls him an antelope. (I read once where he took over the top speedster position, but it was debatable because it was only one young buck and not an overall rating.) I’ve also read that our mountain goat is considered more of an antelope these days, but it still looks like a goat to me.

    • Yes, we were pretty excited to spot that sable, Craig. He was very skittish and about 200′ away, and kept grazing for quite awhile while we admired and photographed. Good thing Athena got some good photos, because we never saw one again. Interesting what you say about the pronghorn speedster position. Pronghorn are so very fast, such a joy to watch. I think I remember you saying you see lots where you are (Idaho?). We don’t see lots here, but whenever I do see one, I am in awe. Interesting, too, about the mountain goat, another very cool mammal. My warmest thanks.

    • I’m so very glad you found the African antelope post enjoyable, Belinda. I didn’t know the wildebeest was an antelope either, until I started digging into research for this post, so we both learned something. Thanks very much.

    • Yes, I agree, Janet, that sable is breathtakingly beautiful. The kudu is another awesome creature, with the males’ horns and the interesting lines on their back, including, yes, the inner ears. As for the cheetah, they are creatures of beauty unlike any on this planet. My warmest thanks.

    • As you know from your many travels and outdoor experiences, Cindy, the thrill of finding wild creatures in their native habitat is like no other thrill on this planet. Thanks so much for your comment and visit.

    • Since I was a kid I wanted to go to Africa, and it was not easy to go, but we made it a goal and succeeded. I hope you do get to go someday, MB. I’m glad you enjoyed the antelope horns and the cheetah, it was a pleasure to share their beauty. Thanks very much for your visit.

  11. Beautiful words and photographs once again! By many a leap and bound, reading a new Jet Eliot post on a Friday always puts a spring in our step – thank you!
    Each antelope example you shared is pretty, and I wouldn’t want to pick a favourite on looks, but on names? Klipspringer is a winner!

    • Oh yes, pc, your choice of Klipspringer is a winner. They are so amazing the way they can leap across rocks and cliffsides with their specialized hooves. This individual was about 200 feet (61m) away, way up high on the cliffsides. We never would’ve seen it, for they blend into the environment, if our guide hadn’t spotted it. So wonderful to receive your kind words and visit, thanks so much, pc.

  12. Such beautiful animals– great captures, Athena. I love their camouflage markings and some of those horned ones are pretty impressive. It was news to me that our pronghorns are not of the same family. I always learn something from your posts!

    • Yes, it is surprising that our pronghorn isn’t an antelope, isn’t it, Eliza? They look and behave so much like one. I read that one of their closest relatives is the giraffe! Taxonomy is so mysterious to me. I’m glad you enjoyed the African antelope and, as always, I very much appreciated your visit.

    • Your words got right to the theme of every one of my wildlife posts, Walt: stirring our “deep respect for everything wild.” My warmest thanks for your thoughts and words today, Walt.

  13. Dearest Jet,
    Always must I tempt the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome by the repetitive scrolling herein, at this educational sphere of yours, only to convey a similarity of other comments. I leave myself weary, and also vulnerable to the afore mentioned condition due to your leaving to me no option other than to strenuously toil to depths of your posts in deep admiration of such photographic genius & gaining of knowledge in regards to our hooved & horned friends & others. I know what I’m getting into when I visit. I am therefore a glutton for education, punishment, & great photographs.
    Warmest wishes,
    Murph & Dawn (& now, Gypsy)

    • Thanks for your warm wishes and appreciation for my posts, Dawn Renee. I’m sorry to hear of your carpal tunnel pain, glad to hear about the new Gypsy, and hope you can find relief for your wrists and forearms. Sending warm wishes back to you all.

      • I don’t have Carpal Tunnel. Every time I visit you, you have received so much support & comments, that I must scroll, seemingly without end, to leave a comment, if I choose! I’m so happy you have it like that. I was sleepy & facetious when I commented, & so perhaps the kidding aspect in it wasn’t obvious. Apologies, but thank you for caring so much : )

  14. Hi Jet, An excellent overview of the variety of antelopes. Wonderful photos. These brought back great memories of spotting all the different types with their beautiful horns and agile leaping. Thanks for another wonderful nature moment.

    • I’m happy you know the wonder of watching the leaping antelope in Africa, Jane. Sometimes the antelope get overlooked due to all the other amazing and unique mammals on the savannah. Thanks so much for stopping by, your visits and comments are always a joy.

    • Your Scrabble comment got me wondering what the other two words are, besides oryx and klipspringer, RH. My guess is kudu and oxpecker. lol. I’m happy you enjoyed the antelope, RH, and being a word person myself, I am absolutely delighted to have provided some good ammo for your next Scrabble game. I was traveling in Trinidad once and became friends with a British couple. Every night they ate dinner early and brought along their Scrabble game, and after the dinner dishes were cleared, they set up their Scrabble game. Humans are another of my favorite mammals. Cheers to you, my friend.

  15. 91 antelope species! I had no idea there were so many. The oribi looks so much like our white-tailed deer I would have mistaken it for one. Such pretty and graceful animals. Thank you for these wonderful photos of these beautiful creatures in their natural settings.

    • I, too, find it astounding that we have 91 antelope species on this planet, Barbara. And I liked your comparison of the oribi to the white-tailed deer, they do look so similar. I hadn’t even thought about it, so thanks for that. Always a pleasure to have you stop by and share your thoughts, Barbara, thank you.

    • Always a joy to hear from you, Wayne, thanks for stopping by. I, too, love how the antelope are “such magnificent jumpers.” They fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

      • I looked up how high they can jump? Turns out an Impala can jump 9 feet 10 inches! That’s 2 inches shy of the standard basketball height! If they could dribble you’d have a great team there……THE IMPALA’S! (better watch out for the horns)

      • You got me laughing here, Wayne, with the great new team: The Impalas. The horns might come in handy! That really is an amazing height they jump. Many thanks for your fun contribution, my friend.

    • It was a great joy to share the “land of antelopes,” Val, and I am so very happy you came along for the adventure. Thanks for your kind words, today, much appreciated.

  16. The usual: superb photo gallery and excellent, informative text. πŸ™‚
    I know there are antelopes in southeastern Alberta; not sure if they’re native and I’ve certainly never seen one, but I have seen photos.

    • Hi Frank, always a joy to “see” you. Thought you might like to know that there are no native antelopes in North America, but there are pronghorn in Alberta, which is what you refer to. They look like antelope, but technically are in a different family. The pronghorns, while not antelopes, are native to Alberta. They are attracted to the short grass prairies in southeastern Alberta. I’m guessing with all the photography that has you outdoors in this prairie wilderness, that one day you might see one. What an amazing sight they are, and so very, very fast. Many thanks for your kind words and visit, Frank.

  17. Very enjoyable post. You did a great job of capturing the diversity of the antelopes. I didn’t realize a wildebeest was an antelope. I learn something every week! Thank you.

    • It is a great pleasure to have you along on the antelope safari post, Nan. It is amazing how diverse the range of antelopes in Africa is, and a joy to share this marvel with you. Thanks so very much for your weekly visits. I appreciate every one.

  18. Learned so much here (as I always do from your posts). Antelopes – will I ever seen one in the wild? Doubtful. As a child I remember seeing them at the zoo. They seemed – odd – to be there, but of course in their own environment they have beauty. Except maybe for the Wildebeest. πŸ™‚

  19. Pingback: African Antelope β€” Jet Eliot | huggers.ca

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