There are hundreds of antelopes and deer species available in different parts of the world. They beckon the wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike. While Touriosity is committed to bringing a unique theme every issue, this time it has presented its readers with an unusual theme on mothers and babies in the animal kingdom. However, there is also some emphasis on antelopes and deer in this issue. For our readers who are interested in wildlife and photography, we thought of compiling a list of beautiful animals from the wild. The result was this Snapshot on antelopes and deer. This list also contains some species of animals that do not strictly belong to the category of antelopes and deer but look similar and have similar habits. Hence these were included. However, many more species remains to be further explored and we promise to bring a whole issue on antelopes in futures.
1. Barasingha, India, Nepal
Also called swamp deer, its antlers are different from other Indian deer species as they have more than three tines. The name literally means ‘twelve-horned’ and full grown stags may have up to 14 tines; history has recorded up to 20. Originally found throughout Indian sub-continent, it is now extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Nepal has a thin population while India has a large population.
Barasingha has shoulder height of nearly 4 ft and a head-to-body length of nearly 6 ft. Its body is covered with woolly hair that is yellowish brown above but paler below, with white spots along the spine. In summer the coat becomes bright rufous-brown. Throat, belly, inside of the thighs and beneath the tail is white. Females are paler than males. On an average antlers measure up to 2.5 ft but the highest recorded one has been of 8.5 ft. A stags weighs 170 to 280 kg and females weigh 130 to 145 kg. When alarmed, they give out shrill, baying alarm calls.
It is mainly found in Assam, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and it is the state animal of the latter two states. A Barasingha was featured in Rudyard Kipling’s The Second Jungle Book.
2. Barking Deer, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, northeastern India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam
Also called the Indian muntjac or southern red muntjac, this deer species is native to South and Southeast Asia. These are highly alert creatures and are called the ‘barking deer’ due to the bark-like sound that it makes as an alarm when danger is present.
Barking deer is among the smallest deer species and has soft, short, brownish or greyish thick coat with a darker face and reddish brown limbs. Male muntjacs have short antlers measuring about 4 inch protruding from above the eyes. Females have tufts of fur and small bony knobs instead of antlers. They measure from 35 – 53 inches in length and 16 – 26 inches in height.
The animal is found in tropical and subtropical deciduous forests, grasslands, savannas and scrub forests, as also in the hilly slopes of the Himalayas up to an altitude of 3,000m. They are omnivores and apart from grass, bushes, leaves, bark, twigs, herbs, fruit, sprouts, seeds and tender shoots, they also eat bird eggs, and small, warm-blooded animals.
3. Bates’s Pygmy Antelope, Nigeria, Congo basin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda
It is the second smallest antelope species in the world and is also known as Dwarf Antelope and Pygmy Antelope. It lives in moist forest and bushlands of Central and West Africa and is also found in plantations, secondary forest, cleared areas and areas near the human habitations.
An adult Bates’ Pygmy antelope weighs about 2 to 3 kg and measure 20 to 22 inches in length. Their tail measure 1.8 to 2.0 inches. Males have horns measuring 1.5 to 2.0 inches that extend back over their head on the same plane as the face. The horns are minute, black or brown in colour, stout and ringed at the base. It has glossy dark chestnut colour on its back that darkens on the back and is lighter on the flanks. There is a sharp contrast white colour on the throat and belly.
They mainly eat leaves, buds, shoots, fungus and herbs and very limited amount of grass. Occasionally they also eat crops, especially peanut, which make them a menace for farmers. This antelope can run very fast and make a short and raspy bark when fleeing.
4. Blackbuck, India, Nepal, Pakistan
Also known as the Indian antelope Blackbucks look similar to gazelles, and are distinguished mainly by their black colour. Their lifespan is about 10 to 15 years.
Blackbucks measure up to 29 to 33 inches at the shoulder. Males weigh 20–57 kg and females weigh 20–33 kg. The males have long, ringed horns measuring about 14–30 inches long, and females occasionally have horns. The horns typically diverge forming a ‘V’-like shape. These antelopes are dark brown to black in colour with white fur on the chin, around the eyes, the underparts and the insides of the legs. The females have a lighter tone.
Blackbuck inhabits grassy plains, dry thorn and scrub lands and thinly forested areas close to perennial water sources as they drink a lot of water. Originally they were also found in Bangladesh but are currently extinct there.
In India blackbucks are mainly found in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. The population of blackbucks have reduced over the decades and today it is listed as an endangered animal in India.
5. Bohor Reedbuck, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania and Togo
Bohor reedbuck has five subspecies. It has a yellow to grayish brown coat. Generally, the bohor reedbuck is yellower than other reedbucks. The young ones are darker than the adults and have longer hair. They have a lifespan of about 10 years.
They measure 39–53 inches in length. The males typically weigh 43–65 kg and females 35–45 kg. They have a bushy tail measuring 7.1–7.9 inches in length. The males possess a pair of stout horns measuring 9.8–13.8 inches that extend backward from the forehead and hook slightly forward.
Bohor reedbuck eats grasses and tender reed shoots with high protein and low fibre content and drink a lot of water. They inhabit moist grasslands, swamplands and woodlands. They can easily camouflage in grasses and reeds, and hide themselves rather than running from danger. But if the threat is close, they flee, whistling shrilly to alert the others. Its main predators are lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, African wild dogs and Nile crocodiles
6. Bongo, Kenya, Southern Sudan, West Africa, Central Africa, Congo Basin
Bongos are one of the largest of the forest antelopes. They are of two types, the Lowland Bongo and the Mountain Bongo, the latter is critically endangered with only about 150 in number left in the wild.
A nocturnal ungulate, Bongos are characterised by a striking reddish-brown coat, with black and white markings and stripes and long spiraled horns. The stripes help them in camouflaging with the surroundings when in danger.
Bongos are herbivorous and need salt in their diet. Hence they regularly visit the natural salt licks. They are found in dense mountain forests, dense undergrowth and rainforests.
Adult males and females both are similar in size and both have horns, but that of the male are longer and more massive. The full grown height is about 1.1 to 1.3m at the shoulder and the length is 2.15 to 3.15m. The tail measures 18–26 inches. Females weigh around 150–235 kg, while males weigh about 220–405 kg. It is third largest of the forest antelopes after Greater Kudu and Eland.
7. Bontebok, South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia
The bontebok has two subspecies, i.e the bontebok and the blesbok. They are closely related to the common tsessebe which are said to be the fastest antelope in Africa with a capacity of attaining a speed over 90 km/h. The bontebok is chocolate brown in colour, with a white underside and a white stripe from the forehead to the tip of the nose. It has a distinctive white patch around its tail.
The bontebok typically stands 31 to 39 inches high at the shoulder and measure 47 to 83 inches from head to tail. The tail measures 12 to 24 inches. They weigh between 50 and 155 kg, with the males being a little larger and heavier than females. Both males and females have lyre-shaped and clearly ringed horns. The horns can measure up to half a metre.
The bonteboks are found in the coastal Fynbos and Renosterveld. They are not good jumpers, but they are very good at crawling under things. Bonteboks were once rampantly killed and reduced to a wild population of just 17 in number, but the species has since recovered thanks to conservation efforts undertaken for game hunting.
8. Bushbuck, Sub-Saharan Africa like South Africa, Angola,Zambia, Ethiopia, Somalia
Also called Imbabala or Cape bushbuck, it is found in Sub-Saharan Africa in rain forests, montane forests, forest-savanna mosaic, savanna bush and woodlands.
Bushbucks have a light brown coat, with up to seven white stripes and white geometrical patches on ears, chin, tail, legs and neck. Only the males have horns which can reach over half a metre with only one twist. The body colour largely depends on the region that a bushbuck inhabits ranging from yellow to red-brown, brown, olive to almost black. Those found in Angola, Zambia, southern DRC, Botswana and northern Zimbabwe do not have any significant stripes.
Bushbucks are about 3 ft tall at the shoulder and weigh from 45 to 80 kg with males being larger. At 10 months old, young males sprout horns that are particularly twisted and at maturity form the first loop of a spiral.
Bushbucks are solitary animals and the mature males go out of their way to stay away from each other. They are mostly nocturnal animals and are active in early mornings and night. These are in high demand in game hunting.
9. Chousingha, India and Nepal
It is a small four-horned antelope found in India and Nepal. It is one of the smallest in Asia. It may be noted that Chousingha is the only antelope with four horns. One pair of its horns is located between the ears, and the other on the forehead. The posterior horns (measuring 3.1–4.7 inches) are longer than the anterior ones (measuring 0.79–1.97 inches). While there are not much differences in appearance between the males and females, only the males have horns.
It stands 22–25 inches at the shoulder and weighs nearly 17–22 kg. The slender antelope has thin legs and a short tail. It has a yellowish brown to reddish coat. The underpart of the neck is white.
Chousingha is an elusive antelope that is solitary by nature although it is possible to sight it in groups of three to five sometimes. They feed on grasses, herbs, shrubs, foliage, flowers and fruits and needs to drink water frequently; so it stays in places with significant grass cover or heavy undergrowth near water sources.
There are three subspecies of Chousinghas.
10. Chinkara, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India
Also known as the Indian gazelle, Chinkara has six subspecies. They live in arid plains, hills, deserts, dry scrub and light forests. They inhabit more than 80 protected areas in India. 80% of the Indian population of Chinkaras are found in the Thar Desert. The population in Pakistan is scattered, and has been severely reduced by hunting. In Iran and Afghanistan also the population is very less.
Adult Chinkaras stand at 26 inches tall and weigh about 23 kg. It has a reddish-buff summer coat with smooth, glossy fur. In winter, the white belly and throat fur is in greater contrast. The sides of the face have dark chestnut stripes from the corner of the eye to the muzzle, bordered by white stripes. The horns measure about 15 inches.
Chinkaras are shy and avoid human habitation. They are solitary animals and are mainly seen alone. They can go without water for a long time and can get the required fluids from plants and dew. They are herbivores and share their habitat with other herbivores. They are preyed upon by leopards, tigers, lions, cheetahs, wolves, golden jackels and wild dogs.
11. Dik Dik, Eastern and Southern Africa
Dik Diks are one of the smallest antelopes inhabiting the bushlands and savannas of eastern and southern Africa. They are found in places with sufficient supply of edible plants. They are herbivores and mainly eat fruits, berries, foliage and shoots, but not grass. They hardly drink any water and that gives them the distinction of having the driest excrement among the animals.
Their height varies from 12–15.5 inches at the shoulder, and length from 19.5 –27.5 inches. They weigh between 3 to 6 kgs and live up to 10 years. Female dik-diks are a little larger and the males have longitudinally grooved horns, 3 inches in length. Upper part of the body is grayish-brown while the lower parts, including the legs, belly, crest and flanks, have a lighter shade of brown. Dik Diks have a bare black spot below the inside corner of each eye.
Dik-diks have excellent eyesight and reach up to a speed of 42 km/h. When frightened, they run in a zig-zag pattern and whistle through their noses, producing the sound ‘dik-dik’. They are preyed upon by leopards, lions, monitor lizards, cheetahs, jackals, baboons, eagles, hawks, pythons, hyenas, wild dogs and humans (for gloves).
12. Eland, Angola, Botswana, DR of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
The second largest antelope, Eland prefers habitats like savannahs, woodlands and open grasslands rather than dense forests. It uses loud barks, visual and postural movements to warn others of danger. It primarily eats grasses and leaves. It is the slowest antelope, with a peak speed of 40 km/hr. They can jump up to 2.5-3 metres from a standing start when startled.
An adult male is 1.6m tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 1000kg with an average of 500–600 kg. Females are slightly shorter and weigh between 340–445 kg. Both sexes have horns with a steady spiral ridge. Horns of males (17–26in) are thicker and shorter than those of females (20–27in). Males use their horns to wrestle with rivals; females use them to protect their young from predators. The coat of Elands differ geographically, with elands in northern part having distinctive markings (torso stripes, markings on legs, dark garters and a spinal crest) that are absent in the south. Females have a tan coat, while the coats of males are darker. As males age, their coat becomes more grey.
13. Gemsbok, Southern Africa
Also called the South African oryx, the gemsbok is depicted on the coat of arms of Namibia which has a current population of about 400,000. They are mainly desert-dwelling and grazing animals that dig up to a meter deep to find roots. They supplement their water intake by eating wild melons and cucumbers.
Gemsbok are light brownish-grey to tan in colour, with lighter patches toward the bottom rear of the rump. They have long black tails. They have muscular necks and shoulders, and their legs have white ‘socks’. Both sexes have long, straight horns. Female gemsbok use their horns to defend themselves and their offspring from predators, while males primarily use their horns to defend their territories from other males. They stand about 1.2 m at the shoulder and have a body length of 75 to 94 inches. The tail measures up to 3 ft. Male gemsbok weigh between 180 and 240 kg, while females weigh 100–210 kg.
Gemsbok are widely hunted for their spectacular horns. Unlike for other antelopes, the female trophies are sometimes more desirable than male ones. The horn can be fashioned into a natural trumpet
14. Gerenuk, Eastern part of Africa, including Central Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and northern Tanzania
Also known as the giraffe gazelle, it is a long-necked antelope found in the Horn of Africa and the drier parts of East Africa. They are found in woodland forests to open plains. They are adapted to survive in arid habitats. Their long legs, long legs and ability to stand on hind legs allows them to eat leaves of trees that are otherwise beyond their reach.
The most distinctive feature of the gerenuk is that it has a long, slender neck and limbs. This makes it appear like a smaller version of giraffe. Gerenuk is 31–41 inches tall, and weighs between 28 and 52 kg. Their coat is reddish brown in colour. The strong and thick horns, present only on males, are lyre-shaped and measure 9.8–17.3 inches.
Gerenuks do not drink water. They remain hydrated through the intake of succulents.
Their population of gerenuks has been declining over the years and its conservation status as of today is ‘Near Threatened’.
15. Grant’s Gazelle, East Africa including Northern Tanzania to South Sudan and Ethiopia, and from the Kenyan coast to Lake Victoria
This gazelle is closely related to Thomson’s gazelle. It has five subspecies, namely, Bright’s gazelle, Southern Grant’s gazelle, Northern Grant’s gazelle, Peter’s gazelle and Robert’s gazelle. They are preyed upon by cheetahs, jackals and wild dogs.
Grant’s gazelle stands 30–37 inches at the shoulder. Females weigh from 35-50 kg and males from 50-80 kg. The coat has a beige orange shade on the back and a white belly. Compared to Thomson’s gazelle, it is much larger and has lyre-shaped horns which are stout, clearly ringed, and measure18–32 inches long.
Grant’s gazelle lives in open grass plains, shrublands, semi-arid and dry areas; it avoids areas with high grass where the visibility of predators is compromised. They are migratory animals, but travel in the opposite direction of most of the other ungulates, such as Thomson’s gazelles, zebras and wildebeest, which are more water dependent. They can subsist on vegetation in waterless, semiarid areas, where they face little competition. They eat leafy material during dry seasons to supplement their intake of water.
16. Hartebeest, Africa
Also known as kongoni, it is a large antelope, inhabiting dry savannas and wooded grasslands and have also been reported at Mount Kenya at an altitude of 4,000m. It has five sub-species, viz., Bubal hartebeest, Red hartebeest, Coke’s hartebeest, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and Swayne’s hartebeest, each differing in size and colour of the coat. Hartebeests are primarily grazers, with their diets consisting mainly of grasses.
A large antelope with a particularly elongated forehead and oddly shaped horns, the hartebeest stands 1 m tall at the shoulder, and has a head to tail length of 79 to 98 inches. Their weight ranges from 100 to 200 kg. They also have long legs, short neck and pointed ears. Both sexes of all subspecies have horns, with those of females being more slender. Horns can reach length of 28 inches.
Hartebeest form herds of 20 to 300 individuals. They are very alert and non-aggressive. The population of hartebeest has considerably reduced owing to reasons like habitat destruction, hunting, human settlement and competition with livestock for food. It is a popular game animal due to its highly regarded meat.
17. Himalayan Musk Deer, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China
Also called the white-bellied musk deer, it is a musk deer found in the Himalayas of Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and China in high alpine environments above altitudes of 2,500 m. They are very well adapted for high altitudes with well-developed dew claws, broad toes that provide increased stability on steep slopes, and a dense coat of coarse hairs with air-filled cells to insulate against the cold temperature.
These musk deer have a pair of enlarged and easily broken canines that grow continuously up to a maximum length of 4 inches. Their hind legs are longer and more muscular and forelimbs are shorter, thinner.
These animals are nocturnal creatures and at night, they emerge to feed in more open habitats, and preferably select leaves of trees and shrubs with high protein and low fibre contents. During winter, they subsist on poorer quality lichens, or climb small trees to feed upon leaves that would otherwise be out of reach.
It is an endangered animal. Their predators include leopard snow leopard, Eurasian lynx, red fox and wolves.
18. Hog Deer, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Thailand
The small Indian hog deer is so named due to the hog-like manner in which it runs through the forests. The antler of this animal is three tined. However, antlers with more points are also found. The distinctive features of typical hog deer antlers are the acute angle between the brow tine and main beam and the fact that the inner tops tend to be short and angle back from the main beam and across towards the opposite antler.
An adult hog deer stands about 70 cm at the shoulder and weighs 50 kg. They have an elongated body and relatively short legs, short tail and rounded ears. The fore legs are shorter than hind legs.
Hog Deer’s coat is thick and generally dark-brown in winter except for the underparts of the body and legs which are lighter in colour. During late spring, the coat turns reddish brown. In summer, there is usually a uniform row of light-coloured spots along either side of the dorsal stripe from the shoulders to the rump.
Predators include tigers, leopards, dholes, pythons and clouded leopards.
19. Impala, Southern Africa including Angola, Gabon and Namibia
Impala is a medium-sized, slender antelope similar in look to the Grant’s gazelle. It is found in woodlands and savannahs of eastern and souther Africa. They remain close to water source.
Impala measures 28–36 inches at the shoulder and 51 inches from head to tail and weighs 40–76 kg. The males have slender, lyre-shaped horns that measure up to 36 inches long. They use the horns as weapons in fights for dominance. An Impala has a glossy, double tone reddish brown coat and white underbelly. Facial features include white rings around the eyes and a light chin and snout. The ears are 6.7 inches long and are tipped with black.
Impalas are diurnal animals and are browsers as well as grazers. They feed on monocots, dicots, forbs, fruits and acacia pods. They are very fast runners and reach a maximum speed on 80 km/hr. Impala is one of the most important prey for some of the biggest predators like cheetahs, lions and leopards. A half of the new-born impalas are killed by the predators during the first few weeks of their lives.
20. Indian Mouse Deer, India, Nepal
The Indian spotted chevrotain is often referred to as the mouse deer due to its small size, short legs and round belly. It inhabits the rainforests and is nocturnal in nature making it near impossible to sight during daytime. They are seen by sheer chance if they venture out in the early evenings or mornings from their safe homes in hollows at the base of trees or in rocky crevices.
The animal has a body length of 23 inches, a tail measuring 1 inch and weighs around only about 3 kg. It is dull brown in color with three or four dotted white stripes run longitudinally along flank. These markings provide them excellent camouflage helping them to hide from predators. They are ruminants and have a four-chambered stomach like other deer though, although it is not strictly considered to be a deer. They do not have antlers like deer and their characteristics are more pig-like.
The animals live in the evergreen and deciduous forests of India near sources of water. They are solitary in nature and are mostly alone, except during mating time. They are not seen in groups.
21. Klipspringer, From northeastern Sudan, Eritrea, northern Somalia and Ethiopia to South Africa, and along coastal Angola and Namibia. Also found in smaller numbers in Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Burundi
Klipspringers are a small but sturdy antelope variety found mainly in eastern and southern Africa. They mainly eat plants, fruits and flowers.
They stand 17–24 inches at the shoulder and the body length is between 30 and 45 inches. The tail measures 2.6–4.1 inches. It weighs from 8 - 18 kg. Females are slightly larger and heavier than the males. They have brown forehead, short ears, prominent preorbital glands near the eyes, white lips and chin and spiky horns in males measuring 3–3.5 inches. The coarse coat of the klipspringer contain brittle hair and is yellowish gray to reddish brown and the underbelly is white. The coat provides effective insulation in the extreme cold weather. They have cylindrical, blunt hooves that provide good grip on the rocky surfaces for a smooth climb.
They inhabit places characterised by rocky terrain and sparse vegetation at altitudes as high as 4,500 metres on Mount Kilimanjaro. They can jump from rock to rock. They migrate to lowlands during food scarcity.
22. Kudu, Africa
These are very large sized spiral horned antelopes. There are two main species – Lesser kudu and Greater kudu. A Greater Kudu can reach up to a length of 2.4m and weight of 270 kg. They have very impressive horns which they use during fights. Due to the sharp twist in the horn, the animals sometimes fail to unlock their horns and end up dying of starvation or dehydration. The animals are mainly solitary ones and are seen alone, except during the mating season.
Kudus eat leaves and shoots. In dry seasons they eat wild watermelons and other fruit for their liquid content and natural sugars.
Kudus are good jumpers and can clear a 5-foot fence from a standing start. They are great kickers and thanks to their sheer size, they can break a wild dog’s or jackal’s neck or back. However, they are preyed upon by lions, leopards, African wild dogs, hyenas, pythons and humans during game hunting.
A musical instrument is made from the horn of kudu. It is used as a shofar in Jewish ceremonies or as a part of Scouting movement’s Wood Badge training program.
23. Musk Deer, Asia
Musk deer are different from real deer which have antlers. They also have a pair of tusk-like teeth and a musk gland. Another point of difference between musk deer and normal deer is that the former have longer hind legs and shorter fore legs. They mainly live in forested and alpine scrub habitats in the mountains of southern Asia.
Musk deer measure about 31 to 39 inches in length, 20 to 28 inches in height at shoulder, and weigh between 7 to 17 kg. Males have enlarged upper canines, forming sabre-like tusks. Their feet are adapted for climbing in rough terrain.
Musk deer are herbivores, and eat mainly leaves, flowers, grasses, mosses and lichens. They are shy nocturnal animals and live solitary lives.
The greatest threat to Musk deer are humans who hunt them for their scent glands, which are used in perfumes. The glands are sold in the black market and it is said that in the olden days the royalty wore the scent of the musk deer. The scent is said to be an aphrodisiac.
24. Nilgai, Indian subcontinent
The nilgai or blue bull is the largest antelope in Asia. Timid and tame, if harassed or alarmed, they may flee by galloping away from the source of danger. They are herbivores and prefer areas with short bushes, scattered trees in scrub forests and grassy plains including agricultural lands, but not in dense forest.
It stands 1–1.5 metres in height at the shoulder and 1.7–2.1 metres in length from head to tail. The males weigh 109–288 kg while the females are lighter with a weight of 100–213 kg. The males and females also differ in colour. It has a sturdy built with thin-legs and a sloping back. It has a deep neck with a white patch on the throat, a short mane of hair behind and along the back ending behind the shoulder, and around two white spots each on its face, ears, cheeks, lips and chin. There is a column of coarse long hair along the dewlap ridge below the white throat patch. The tufted tail measure 21 inches and is tipped with black. The forelegs are generally longer, and all four legs are often marked with white ‘socks’. Only males possess horns measuring up to 9.4 inches in length. While the females and juveniles have orange to tawny coat, adult males have a bluish-grey coat.
25. Nilgiri Tahr, India
Also called Nilgiri ibex or just ibex, these ungulates are found in the Nilgiri Hills up to an elevation of 2,600 m and in the open montane grassland of the Western Ghats in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Southern India. It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.
Nilgiri tahr is a stocky goat with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane. Males are larger than females and of darker colour when mature. Both sexes have curved horns, reaching up to 16 inches. Adult males weigh up to 100 kg and stand about 39 inches tall at the shoulder.
Open poaching had resulted in reducing the number of Nilgiri tahrs to as low as 100 by the early 20th century. Since then the conservation efforts have resulted in considerable increase in their population, but it still remains quite less. The Eravikulam National Park is home to the largest population pf Nilgiri Tahrs. Apart from here one also finds them in the Anamalai Hills, Periyar National Park, Palani Hills, some parts of the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and in the Ponmudi Hills in Trivandrum district of Kerala.
26. Nyala, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe
This is a spiral-horned middle-sized antelope native to Africa. They inhabit thickets within dense and dry savanna woodlands.
The male nyala stands up to 43 inches and the female is up to 36 inches tall. Males weigh 98–125 kg while the females are considerably smaller and weigh 55–68 kg. Only the males have horns that are twisted and measure 24–33 inches in length and are yellow-tipped. They have hairy glands on their feet, which leave their scent wherever they walk. The coat is rusty or rufous brown in females and juveniles, but dark brown or slate grey, often tinged with blue, in adult males. Females and young males have ten or more white stripes on their sides.
An herbivore, the nyala feeds upon foliage, fruits and grasses, with sufficient fresh water. They are very cautious animals and live in small groups.
Adult Nyalas are preyed upon by lion, leopard and Cape hunting dog, while baboons and raptorial birds hunt for the juveniles.
27. Oryx, Arabian Peninsula including UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, East Africa and North Africa including Niger, Chad and Tunisia
There are three types of Oryx, two of them are native to arid parts of Africa, and the fourth to the Arabian Peninsula. They have pale fur with contrasting dark markings in the face and on the legs, and straight long horns.
Arabian oryx that became extinct in the wild in 1972 from the Arabian Peninsula was reintroduced in 1982 in Oman, but poaching has reduced its numbers there. A large population exists on Sir Bani Yas Island in the UAE. Populations have been reintroduced in Qatar, Bahrain, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It is regarded as vulnerable to extinction although many thousands are held in captivity.
Scimitar oryx of North Africa, although once reported extinct in the wild, is now said to be seen in some parts of central Niger, Chad and Tunisia. However many thousands are held in captivity around the world.
East African oryx inhabits eastern Africa and is closely related to gemsbok which inhabits southern Africa. The East African oryx is an endangered species.
28. Pronghorn, Western and Central North America
Though not an antelope, it is often referred to by names like the American antelope, the prong buck etc because it closely resembles the real antelopes. Pronghorns have distinct white fur on their rumps, sides, breasts, bellies and throats. Adult males are 1.3–1.5m long from nose to tail, up to 1m in height at shoulder, and weigh 40–65 kg. Females are the same height, but are slender with a weight of 34–48 kg. Their horns are composed of a slender, laterally flattened blade of bone that grows from the frontal bones of the skull. Males horns are 4.9–16.9 inches long with a prong. Females have smaller horns about 1–6 inches in length without prong. They have very large eyes with a 320° field of vision.
Pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere, with a top speed of 88.5 km/h for predator evasion. It is the second-fastest land animal, second only to cheetah. But it can sustain high speeds longer than cheetahs. They have a large windpipe, heart and lungs to take in large amounts of air when running. The hooves have two long, cushioned, pointed toes which help absorb shock when running at high speeds. They also have an extremely light bone structure and hollow hair. All these suggest that pronghorns are built for speed.
29. Reedbuck, Gabon, Tanzania, South Africa, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, DR of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan and Togo
Reedbuck is a common name for three types of African antelopes, viz., Southern Reedbuck found in Gabon, Tanzania and South Africa, Mountain Reedbuck found in sub-Saharan Africa and Bohor Reedbuck we have written about earlier.
Reedbucks males have forward-curving horns. Southern reedbuck is comparatively larger measuring 31–35 inches at the shoulder and have a body length of 53–66 inches. Females weigh 48 kg, while the males weigh 68 kg. It has distinctive dark lines running down the front of its forelegs and lower hindlegs and whitish rings around the eyes. Mountain reedbuck is found in mountainous areas of sub-Saharan Africa. It averages 30 inches at the shoulder, and weighs around 30 kg. It has a grey coat with a white underbelly and reddish-brown head and shoulders. Both sexes have a dark scent patch beneath the ears. The colour of the coat ranges between light- and greyish-brown, and may be lighter on the neck and chest. White fur covers the underparts and the areas near the lips and chin.
30. Roan Antelope, West, Central, East and Southern Africa
These are the fourth largest antelope after only Elands, Bongos and large male Kudus. Roan antelopes have a horse-type body structure and are found in woodland and grassland savanna, mainly in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome.
They stand up to 5 ft at the shoulder, measure up to 8 ft from the head to tail and males weigh 242–300 kg while the females weigh 223–280 kg. Named for their roan colour (a reddish brown), they have lighter underbellies, white eyebrows and cheeks and black faces, lighter in females. They have white patches around the eyes and the mouth. They have short, erect manes of greyish brown hair extending from the back of the neck, very light beards and prominent red nostrils. The horns are ringed and can reach a metre long in males, slightly shorter in females.
They have a dark tail measuring 21 inches that ends with a black tuft. Their long legs have large hooves. The animal has short and smooth coat that is of brown to amber colour.
31. Royal Antelope, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone
This smallest antelope in the world is found in West Africa. It is as small as a rabbit and looks almost like a rat with long legs. They have large, round dark brown eyes, small ears and a slim muzzle. Compared to the Bates’s pygmy antelope, they have longer muzzle, broader lips, a smaller mouth and smaller cheek muscles.
An adult Royal Antelope is only 10 inches in height at the shoulder and weighs 2.5 to 3 kg. Length is 16 inches only, but the females are a little larger. They have long and slender legs, the hind legs being twice the size of the forelegs, similar to hare. They have a thin tail, about 2 to 3 inches in length. The males have short, smooth, spiky horns that bend backwards and measure 1 – 1.2 inches. They have a reddish brown colour on the top and a contrasting white in the abdominal region, chin and the medial surfaces of the legs. A brown band runs across the chest and they have a rufous collar on the neck.
Royal antelope is a nocturnal animal and is typically active at night though activity may also be observed during the day. It is an herbivore and lives on tiny amounts of fresh foliage and shoots mainly and some fruits and fungi occasionally.
32. Sable Antelope, East and Southern Africa, from Kenya to South Africa
Sable antelope inhabits the savanna woodlands and grasslands during the dry season and eat mid-length grasses and leaves. They are generally rich chestnut to black in colour. The underparts, cheek, and chin are all white, creating a great contrast with the dark back and flanks. Long, white hairs are present below the eyes, and a wide, black stripe runs over the nose.
They have a compact and robust build, characterized by a thick neck and tough skin. The males are heavier and about one-fifth taller than the female. The head to tail length is up to 8 ft and males reach about 4.5 ft at the shoulder, while females are slightly shorter. Males weigh 235 kg and females 220 kg in average. Both sexes have ringed horns which arch backward. In females, these can reach 24–40 inches in length, while in males they can be 32–65 inches long. These antelopes often have upright mane on the neck, and a short mane on the throat.
Sable antelopes are preyed upon by the carnivores. When confronted by predators like lions, they defend themselves using their horns, which in many cases have even resulted in the deaths of the big cats.
33. Saiga Antelope, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan
This critically endangered antelope originally inhabited a vast area from the foothills of Carpathian Mountains and Caucasus to Mongolia and North America. Today, they are only found in one location in Russia and three areas in Kazakhstan. Some of these migrate to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in winter.
Saigas are seen in very large herds grazing in semi-deserts, steppes, grasslands and open woodlands, eating several species of plants, including some that are poisonous to other animals. They can cover long distances and swim across rivers. Their most unique feature is the pair of closely spaced, bloated nostrils directed downward. During summer migrations, a saiga’s nose helps filter out dust kicked up by the herd and cools the animal’s blood. In the winter, it heats up the frigid air before it is taken to the lungs.
Saiga stands 24–32 inches tall at the shoulder, 39–55 inches long and weighs 26–69 kg. The coat colour changes seasonally. The hairs measures 0.71–1.18 inches long in summer, and up to 1.6–2.8 inches in winter. Only males possess horns measuring 11–15 inches in length that are thick and slightly translucent.
Saigas are preyed upon by wolves and the juveniles are targeted by foxes, steppe eagles, golden eagles, dogs and ravens.
34. Sambar Deer, Indian subcontinent, South China and Southeast Asia
The sambars inhabit in dense forests with cover of deciduous shrubs and grasses.
They differ in size across regions and the biggest ones may reach a height of 5 ft or more at the shoulder and may weigh as much as 546 kg, though they are more typically 100 to 350 kg. Head and body length varies between 5.3 to 8.9 ft, with a 8.7 to 13.8 inch long tail. The females are smaller than males. The males have large, rugged antlers measuring up to 43 inches with three tines. Sambars have a shaggy coat, from yellowish brown to dark grey in colour, and while it is usually uniform in colour, some subspecies have chestnut marks on the rump and underparts. They have a small but dense mane, more prominent in males. Adult males and pregnant or lactating females possess an unusual hairless, blood-red spot located about halfway down the underside of their throats.
Sambars are nocturnal and solitary animals. They feed on a wide variety of vegetation, including grasses, foliage, browse, fruit, and water plants, depending on the local habitat. It is an endangered animal and its population has declined due to hunting, insurgency and industrial encroaching.
35. Sangai, Manipur, India
Sangai is an endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur. It is the state animal of Manipur. Its original natural habitat is the floating marshy grasslands of the Keibul Lamjao National Park, near the Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in eastern India.
Also called the dancing deer the sangai is medium-sized, with uniquely distinctive antlers, measuring up to 42 inches in length with extremely long brow tine, which form the main beam. The forward protruding beam appears to come out from the eyebrow. The height and weight of a fully grown stag may be up to 4 ft at shoulder and they may weigh from 95 to 110 kg. The height and weight of the female are shorter and less respectively as compared to the male counterpart. The length of the body may be up to 5 ft in both sexes. They have a short tail.
Sangai feed on a variety of water living plants, grasses, herbaceous plants, and shoots. Culturally, the sangai finds itself imbedded deep into the legends and folklore of the Manipuris. Based on a popular folk legend, the sangai is interpreted as the binding soul between humans and the nature.
36. Spotted Deer, Indian sub-continent
Also called the chital, cheetal or Axis deer, this is a widely available deer species of the Indian subcontinent. This deer species is said to be the most beautiful and has featured in mythological stories and folklores in India.
On an average a male chital reaches a height of 35 inches and females reach 28 inches at the shoulder. The head-and-body length is around 1.7 m. Average males weigh 30–75 kg, while the females weigh 25–45 kg. Mature males can weigh up to 98 to 110 kg. The males are larger than females and have large three-pronged antlers that are 1 m long. The upper parts of the body are golden to rufous, and are covered in white spots. The abdomen, rump, throat, insides of legs, ears and the tail are white. A brown to black stripe runs along the spine. Hooves measure between 1.6 and 2.4 inches in length and the hooves of the fore legs are longer than those of the hind legs.
Chital are diurnal animals and are active throughout the day. When a predator is around they give out bellows and alarm barks. They are preyed upon by most of the carnivores.
37. Steenbok, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho
Also called steinbuck or steenbok, it is a common small antelope of southern and eastern Africa that live in a variety of habitats like semi-desert to open woodland and thickets, including open plains, stony savannah and Acacia–grassland mosaics.
Steenboks stand16 – 24 inches at the shoulder. Males have straight, smooth, parallel horns that are about 3–8 inches long. There is a black crescent-shape between the ears, a long black bridge to the glossy black nose, and a black circular scent-gland in front of the eye. They have a very short tail measuring about 1.5-2.5 inches long. Their coat colour varies from fawn to rufous and the underside, including chin and throat, is white, as is the ring around the eye. They have large ears with finger-marks on the inside.
Steenbok are active during the day as well as the night. During hotter periods of the day, they rest under shade. On sensing any trouble, steenbok typically lie low in the vegetation. When predator is too close, a steenbok will leap away and follow a zigzag route in an attempt to shake off the pursuer.
38. Thomson’s Gazelle, Kenya and Tanzania and the whole of East Africa
It is one of the best-known gazelles and is nicknamed ‘Tommie’. The current population of Thomson’s gazelles in Africa is considered to be more than 6,00,000 making it the most commonly sighted one, especially in East Africa. With a speed of 80–90 km/h it is the fifth-fastest land animal, after the cheetah (which is its main predator), pronghorn, springbok, and wildebeest. They live in the savannas and grassland habitats, particularly the Serengeti region of Kenya and Tanzania.
Thomson’s gazelle stands 22–32 inches at the shoulder and the head-and-body length is up to 4 ft. Males weigh 20–35 kg, while the females weigh 15–25 kg. They have white rings around the eyes, black stripes running from a corner of the eye to the nose, rufous stripes running from the horns to the nose, a dark patch on the nose and a light forehead. They have a sandy brown to rufous coat. There is a distinctive black band running across the flanks, from the upper foreleg to just above the upper hind leg. They have a black tail that measures 5.9–10.6 inches. Both sexes possess horns that curve slightly backward with the tips facing forward. The horns measure 9.8–16.9 inches in males and 2.8–5.9 inches in females. But some females are hornless.
39. Topi, Burundi, DR of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda
The topi is found in the savannas, semi-deserts and treeless plains of sub-Saharan Africa. They resemble hartebeest but have a darker coat and lack sharply angled horns. They have very good sight and hearing and are very fast runners.
Topis have elongated heads, a distinct hump at the base of the neck, and reddish brown bodies with dark purple patches on their upper legs. They also have a mask-like dark coloration on the face. Their horns are ringed and lyre-shaped. . They stand 39 to 51 inches in height at the shoulder. Their head-and-body length can range from 59 to 83 inches and the tail measures from 16–24 inches. They weigh from 68 to 160 kg, with the males being quite larger, heavier and darker than the females.
Being picky eaters, Topis only eat grass and migrate between pastures. The largest migration takes place in Serengeti, where they join wildebeests, zebras and gazelles. Topis are preyed upon by lions and hyenas, while the jackals target the newborns. However, when other preys are around, the predation rate on topis seem to be much lesser.
40. Waterbuck, Sub-Saharan Africa
The waterbuck is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa. They inhabit scrub and savanna areas along rivers, lakes and valleys, the latter being quite evident from its name.
The head-and-body length is between 70–93 inches and the average height is between 47 and 54 inches. The males are taller and heavier than females. While males weigh 198–262 kg the females weigh 161–214 kg. The colouration varies from brown to grey. Waterbucks have a long neck and short, strong and hind legs. Males have 22–39 inches long, spiral horns that curve backward and then forward. The tail is 8.7–17.7 inches long. The waterbuck has a shaggy coat that is reddish brown to grey, and becomes progressively darker with age. Males are darker than females. They have white markings around the eyes, muzzle and throat.
Waterbuck are mainly grazers and survive on coarse grass discarded by others. They also occasionally eat leaves from plants and trees. They can neither run fast, nor have the endurance to escape from predators and hence fall easy prey to predators.
41. Wildebeest, Africa
Also called Gnu, the wildebeest is a common sight in the savannahs of Africa. They are of two types, the blue wildebeest and the black wildebeest. The two differ in the orientation and curvature of their horns and the colour of their coats. The blue ones are a little bigger than the black ones. Wildebeest often graze in mixed herds with zebra and are alert to the warning signals emitted by other animals when a predator is around.
Both species of wildebeest are even-toed, horned and resemble cattle. Males are larger than females. They have broad muzzles and noses, and shaggy manes and tails. Blue males stand 5 ft tall at the shoulder and weigh around 250 kg, while the black males stand up to 4 ft tall and weigh about 180 kg. The blue females stand about 4.5 ft at the shoulder and weigh 180 kg while the black females stand 3.75 ft at the shoulder and weigh 155 kg.
Wildebeest have to compete with domesticated livestock for pasture. There is also some illegal hunting but yet their population is quite stable. In East Africa, the blue wildebeest is the most abundant big-game species, and some populations migrate annually but the black wildebeest is merely nomadic and do not take part in the big annual migration.