Awesome African antelopes

In praise of Africa's glorious variety of antelopes, so often overlooked as less exciting than predators

Awesome African antelopes
8th March 2007 Jane Tomlinson

Look out! This blog is dedicated entirely to antelopes.

They all too frequently get IGNORED in wildlife programmes. Why is that? They’re marvellous! They have such awesome beauty, grace, stamina and resilience. I’m pleased to report that on our trip around south west Africa last month we saw antelopes of all shapes and sizes.

Here’s a Greater Kudu. We saw a lot of these. They are very big ‘horse’ antelopes and go around in small groups. They have wonderful curly horns and pale stripes on their soft pinky brown bodies. They are quite shy and hardly ever hang around to be admired, prefering the thick cover of trees. We spotted this young female in Moremi game reserve in Botswana.

How pretty are bushbuck! We saw a few, nearly always on their own in thick cover.

Impala get everywhere. Everywhere! Herds and herds of them. And yet, they’re never dull. How could anything as beautiful as an impala be dull.

Like impala, springbok are also very common. They tolerate huge open spaces, amassing in great numbers for protection. And boy, can they jump!

Here is the mighty gemsbok, a creature able to tolerate extremes of heat that would kill other animals. How handsome are they! We saw loads in Namibia.

They’re not immediately beautiful like other antelopes, but don’t underestimate the blue wildebeest. I think they’re great. And I never tire of seeing them.

This was a surprise! I didn’t expect to see bontebok, and yet here they are living wild on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town.

Here’s a tsessebe, (they call them topi in Kenya). We only saw this very small herd in a new game reserve at Ngepi, in the Caprivi Strip in northern Namibia.

Also in Ngepi we saw this glorious sable. Have you ever seen such horns!

I’m told that it’s rare to see puku, and yet here’s one, out and about in Chobe national park, Botswana.

Very similar to the puku is the red lechwe.

This long-faced beastie is a red hartebeest.

And I think you already know what this is!

What a phenomenal thing evolution is to have given rise to such wondrous diversity! Each species evolving over millions of years to create the perfect antelope for specialist jobs. And what a privilege to witness each and every one.

And with all this fresh game on the hoof, we were bound to see a few of the creatures that dine upon them:

And yes, we did get very close…

Photos: mostly Moth Clark, but a few by me.

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