The 10 Most Elegant Antelope Species of the African Bushveld

Author: Michael Theys

September 25, 2009

Author Has 210 Post(s)

 

Kudu

Greater kudu bull in total splendour!

The kudu is the world’s second largest antelope species (behind the eland), reaching up to 1,2 m at shoulder height and weighing as much as 270 kg. It is by far one of the antelopes I admire the most, and always a delight to watch in the wild! 

These rather shy browsers are found in well-bushed regions and hills, and can remain motionless for long periods of time when feeling threatened. Kudu bulls have highly recognizable long, spiral horns (above). As with most antelope species, females are hornless and relatively smaller in size. 

Female browsing for some young shoots!

There are two types of kudus: Greater kudus and Lesser ones. The greater kudu is most common, while the lesser kudu is confined to East Africa. One way to differentiate the two (other than by looking at size), is to observe the number of white stripes on the side of the animal’s body. The lesser kudu can have up to 14 stripes, while the greater kudu barely has 6 or 7

Have you ever checked the animal’s ears? They are unmistakably large; very funny to watch when they hear intriguing sounds! :)  

Kudus have impeccable hearing and sense of smell!

Sable

Sable antelopes are critically endangered (especially the giant sable)!

Also one of the largest antelope species found in Africa. Both sexes have imposing razor-sharp horns and magnificent black and white markings on the head. Males however are usually darker, whereas females and youngsters have a paler chestnut colour. 

Female specimen!

Love the animals, yet they are seldom seen. Encountered them a couple of times only, in places like Ruaha National Park (Tanzania) and Kafue in Zambia! 

Were you aware that sable horns could measure up to 154 cm in length?! Impressive, huh?! ;)  

Nyala

Adult male nyala: rather hairy, isn't it?!

Yet another handsome, striking antelope which inhabits dense bush and riverine areas covered in vegetation. The nyala is relatively similar to the kudu, and females are often confused with the bushbuck. Males are conspicuously different from females both in terms of coat (dark and shaggy) and horns (females don’t have any). 

Cuddly female!

Roan

Posing for the perfect shot!

The fourth-largest antelope species of the continent. Not to be confused with the sable; it is lighter in colour, has shorter horns with long tasseled ears and a clown mask! Absolutely stunning creature! 

Impala

Superb female impala!

The most common African antelope species out of them all. Known as the “McDonald’s” of the bush for their black and white “M-shaped” markings on the bum, it is the one animal that you just can’t miss while on a safari! 

And the "Emmy Award" for most precious bum goes to...?

Impalas have acute hearing and are known for their loud uttered snorts capable of frightening elephants. They are extremely agile fellows and excellent jumpers. The antelope is preyed upon by most of the big predators: the lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, etc. In my opinion it is the most gracile animal of the African savanna! 

Bachelor herd!

N.B. The black tufts above the hooves on the hind legs conceal scent glands, which they use to attract a mate. 

Gemsbok

The gemsbok has been known to impale lions on its pointed horns: ouch!

When one first thinks of the gemsbok (also known as the oryx), it is immediately associated with sand dunes and desert regions. As some people put it, it is “the spirit of the desert embodied in an antelope”. Although arid habitat is typically where the animal is found, it can also occasionally be encountered in savanna and mopane woodland. If you’re a fan of these breathtaking antelopes be sure to visit Tsavo National Park in Kenya, or the well-known Etosha Pans of Namibia. 

Waterbuck

Two young males!

A robust, somewhat “overweight” animal found in small herds and dominated by a bull. As its name implies, waterbucks love water though they will often venture some distance away from it to feed. Two subspecies co-exist: the Common Waterbuck with a distinctive white ring on its rear (see below), and the Defassa Waterbuck that has a white rump patch. 

Aim for the target...with your camera of course!

Did you know?

Just for the fun of it: do you know why common waterbucks have an elliptical ring around the rump? No? Read on… 

When Noah built his Ark, the vessel’s toilet seats were painted in white. Unfortunately for the waterbuck, it had drank too much water (as always…), and couldn’t resist the loo even though the toilet seats weren’t dry yet…very funny I know! :) ;)  

Springbok

Springbok have heavily ringed, lyre-shaped horns!

“Springs” into the air with a pronking action! The springbok is the only gazelle found beneath the Zambezi river. It has very good eyesight and is highly gregarious. It is the symbol of South Africa’s rugby team: the “bokke”! 

Springbok Pronking Video!


ARKive logo
 

Springbok pronking 

Gerenuk

A delicate antelope like no other!

A slender mix between an impala and a giraffe, which, just like the latter, also happens to eat acacia leaves! The gerenuk is considered as a browser and inhabits areas of dry bush and scrub. 

Reaching for acacia leaves!

Bushbuck

Male bushbuck in running motion!

Attractive medium-sized antelope found mostly around rivers, forests and dense bush areas. The bushbuck is mainly nocturnal but may sometimes be observed on early mornings/late afternoon game drives (when undisturbed). Interestingly enough, the bushbuck varies from light to dark brown in colour according to the region in which it lives.

 
 
 

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17 comments
Bob Kotze
Bob Kotze

The title 'Ten Most Elegant' assumes they are placed in some sort of order. The Kudu, certainly warrants its place, a magnificent animal and arguably is first. But the use of the word 'Elegant' could only put one antelope in first place, the Sable. A full grown male, the sun glinting off his black shiny coat, head held high with horns curving back almost touching his rump, a beautiful sight to behold. In my estimation, definitely the most ELEGANT. But then again, who keeps a scoreboard in Africa, they (the animals) are all beautiful.

Frank mello
Frank mello

Nice information. But you need to correct one fact. Roan are the second largest antelope to the Eland.

Frank mello
Frank mello

We own what we believe are the three most beautiful antelope in the world, namely roan, sable and greater kudu. We believe the most beautiful is the roan closely followed by the sable. But we can understand that many prefer the sable.

africafreak
africafreak

Majestic, wow! :) Thanks a lot for sharing! ;)

africafreak
africafreak

Hey guys, thanks for the feedback! :) I can see you all have different opinions on the matter...that's great, love it! ;) Here are two more antelope species that I probably could've included in the list: - The bontebok, restricted to South Africa. - The bongo, primarily found in the Congo, southern Sudan and the montane forests of Kenya. Can you think of any other ones that I may have missed out??? Cheers! :)

Cheryl
Cheryl

I love the unique look of the gerenuk, but the sable is beautiful

yola
yola

oryx, by far !!!! Well, I'm in love with the desert and the etosha.There's a certain spirit about the gemsbok that's breathtaking.

Dorothee
Dorothee

Love this article!! I think the Kudu male looks really impressive, but so do the horns of the Gemsbok! The female Impala looks really pretty with these big eyes (reminds me of Bambi's mum. hehe) But there is defintely no winner or loser. All of them are absolutely gorgeous! Dorothee (from Southafrica-stay.com)

Christine
Christine

This is a fantastic post, thanks!! I learnt something.

Litlisac
Litlisac

My favourite is the Sable antelope. So majestic and rarely seen.

LADYALBYNO
LADYALBYNO

The gerenuk is the most interesting looking one. Of course, they are all very beautiful creatures....God is the master of variety!!!

Africafreak
Africafreak

Hi Bob, thanks a million for your comment! :) You have a point, I also love the Sable...though the Roan has to be one of my favs! So hard to pick a winner...love them all! ;) Thanks for stopping by...

Africafreak
Africafreak

Hi Frank, Thanks for your comment! :) Can you tell me where you got the info from? I could be mistaken, but from what I know/have read, there are other antelope species which are larger/heavier than the Roan (such as the Kudu, up to 270 kg; and the Waterbuck, that can weigh over 250 kg). In other words, the top 5 heaviest antelope species in Africa would consist of: 1. Eland 2. Kudu 3. Waterbuck 4. Roan 5. Sable

africafreak
africafreak

Your link just didn't want to work for some reason...very strange! Thanks for that, beautiful antelope indeed! ;)

africafreak
africafreak

Hey! :) I like the gerenuk too, most definitely an "interesting" creature! ;) Love kudus though, as well as roan and sable antelopes...very difficult to choose, as you said they're all quite stunning! Cheers!