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Related subjects: Mammals

Background Information

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Bontebok in the Cape Peninsula National Park
Conservation status

Conservation Dependent ( IUCN 2.3)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Alcelaphinae
Genus: Damaliscus
Species: D. pygargus
Binomial name
Damaliscus pygargus

The Bontebok is an antelope found in South Africa and Lesotho. The Bontebok has two subspecies; the Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus), occurring naturally in the Fynbos and Renosterveld areas of the Western Cape(and which is an endangered species), and the Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) occurring in the highveld.

The Bontebok stands 80 to 100 centimetres at the shoulder and weighs 50 to 90 kilograms. The Bontebok is a chocolate brown colour, with a white underside and a white stripe from the forehead to the tip of the nose, although there is a brown stripe across the white near the eyes in most Blesbok. Bontebok also has a distinctive white patch around its tail (whence the latin name), while this patch is light brown/tan in Blesbok. The horns of Bontebok are lyre-shaped and clearly ringed they are found in both sexes and can reach a length of half a metre.

Blesbok live in highveld where they eat short grasses, while Bontebok are restricted to coastal Fynbos and Renosterveld (Skead 1980). They are diurnal, though they rest during the heat of the day. Herds contain only males, only females or are mixed and do not exceed forty animals for Bonteboks or seventy for Blesboks.

Bontebok are not good jumpers but they are very good at crawling under things. Mature males form territories and face down other males in displays and occasionally combat.

Bontebok were once extensively killed as pests, and were reduced to a wild population of just seventeen animals, but the species has since recovered. Blesbok are extinct in their natural habitat but they have increased in population to the point where they are now very abundant and avidly farmed, because they are popular quarry for hunters and are easy to sustain.

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