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16 Types of Antelope: Species, Habitats, Diets

Antelopes are a diverse group of herbivorous mammals belonging to the family Bovidae, including cattle, goats, and sheep. The eight subfamilies (with 91 species) that make up the different types of antelopes live in Africa and parts of Asia, but humans have introduced some species to other regions.

As we talk about the different types of antelope, you'll notice that species vary according to their horns' appearance and unique body markings.

Related Read: Antelope facts

16 Types of African Antelopes

Alcelaphinae Subfamily

1. Common Eland (Taurotragus oryx)

common eland
Photo by sutirta budiman on Unsplash

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Common Eland holds the title of being the second largest antelope in the world? These magnificent creatures can reach up to 6 feet at the shoulder and weigh as much as 2,200 pounds!

The Common Eland is the second largest antelope species. This African antelope lives in the vast miombo woodlands and savannahs of southern and eastern Africa. The males boast an immense size, standing tall with shoulder heights of up to 1.6 meters and heavy weights reaching close to a ton.

A unique characteristic of the Common Eland is their peculiar clicking sound when they walk2. This comes from the tendons in their feet, slipping over small bones. Common Elands have a varied diet, incorporating leaves, branches, and grasses into their meals. During dry seasons, they turn to thorny bushes, trees, and even termite larvae for sustenance.

2. Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)

greater kudu
Photo by Rystrom on Pixabay

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Greater Kudu is known for its incredible jumping ability? These majestic antelopes can leap up to 8 feet in the air and cover a distance of 30 feet in a single bound!

The Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) commands respect in the wilderness with its exceptional size and admirable grace1. The males of this species are tall and have twisted horns that can grow over 1.8 meters long. They weigh between 190 to 270 kg.

They exhibit a color palette ranging from brown to bluish-grey and reddish-brown, cut across by white stripes. Their distinct patterns are an effective camouflage against the backdrop of dense woods or highlands.

The Greater Kudu roams around Eastern and Southern Africa. They tend to live alone or in small groups of males. In addition, they preferred eating leaves, fruits, flowers, and grasses. Sometimes, they freeze, with their unique coat patterns acting as camouflage, while other times, they resort to leaping - reaching an impressive height of over 2.5 meters.

3. Lesser Kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis)

lesser kudu
Photo by Riccardo Parretti on Pexels

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Lesser Kudu is known for its incredible leaping ability? These agile antelopes can jump up to 8 feet high and cover a distance of 25 feet in a single bound!

In the heart of East Africa, the Lesser Kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis) carves its existence. This unique antelope calls Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya home. Male horns spiral and can weigh up to 108 kg, while females have lighter horns. When it comes to eating, this species mainly eats leaves and shoots, with the occasional treat of fruits and flowers. This shows how adaptable and tough it is.

4. Giant Eland (Taurotragus derbianus)

giant eland
Photo by Charles J. Sharp on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Giant Elands is the largest antelope species and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds?

The Giant Eland holds the title of being the largest antelope in the world. Both males and females of the Giant Eland have horns, which are large, spiraled, and can reach lengths of up to 3.3 feet (1 meter). The males' horns are thicker and more robust.

Giant Elands have rich reddish-brown coats with vertical white stripes on their sides. Additionally, they possess a dewlap, a loose flap of skin hanging from their necks. Their large size and long legs allow them to cover long distances while foraging for food and escaping predators.

The Giant Eland is listed as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Still, some populations are threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and competition with livestock.

Antilopinae Subfamily

5. Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama)

dama gazelle
Photo by amod2008 on Pixabay

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Dama Gazelle holds the title for being the fastest antelope species in the Sahara Desert? These creatures can reach up to 60 mph speeds and are beautiful and agile.

The Dama Gazelle, known scientifically as the Nanger dama, symbolizes majesty in the Sahara desert and the Sahel of Africa. The Dama Gazelle has a white body, reddish-brown head and neck, and dark stripes from the eyes to the muzzle.

Males are larger than their female counterparts, standing at 90-120 cm at the shoulder. They can weigh 35-75 kg and perform a unique high-jump display called 'pronking' when excited or threatened. Gazelles are tough survivors who mostly eat leaves, grasses, and shoots. They can survive without water by getting moisture from their food.

Male Dama Gazelles dominate the mating scene, often with multiple females. After six months, a single calf is born, showcasing the species' resilience in its arid environment.

Hippotraginae Subfamily

6. Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger)

sable antelope
Photo by Chris Stenger on Unsplash

Fun Fact: Did you know that the sable antelope is known for its incredible jumping ability? These majestic creatures can leap up to 10 feet in the air, which is higher than the average height of a basketball hoop!

Like an African painting unfolding in real life, the Sable Antelope, also called Hippotragus niger, strides across the Eastern and Southern African grasslands and savannah woodlands. The males, dark as night, command attention, while the females charm with their chestnut brown coats.

The males boast an impressive set of curved horns, reaching up to 165 cm long. More than just ornaments, these majestic horns are a powerful defense tool and signify dominance when rivals clash in the mating season.

An intriguing hierarchy is at the heart of the Sable Antelope's social life. Herds, usually composed of 10 to 30 members, march under the rule of one male leader. Earning leadership status happens through epic battles of strength and technique.

7. Roan Antelopes (Hippotragus equinus)

roan antelope
Photo by Charles J. Sharp on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Roan Antelope is often called the "horse antelope" due to its horse-like appearance? Its scientific name, Hippotragus equinus, even translates to "horse-like horse." So, if you ever encounter a Roan Antelope, you might mistake it for a graceful equine!

Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) in certain parts of the African savanna. The roan antelope is a larger species known for its reddish-brown coat and distinct white facial markings.

However, they showcase a penchant for areas where tall grass doesn't limit their field of view. As creatures tied to water, they strategically choose habitats near reliable sources of this life-sustaining element.

When it comes to eating, these antelopes mainly consume grasses as herbivores. However, their strength lies in their adaptability, as they can switch to eating leaves, shoots, and even fruits when there's a food shortage.

8. Four-horned Antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis)

four-horned antelope
Photo by Dr. Raju Kasambe on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the four-horned antelope is the only species with four horns? While most antelope species have two horns, the four-horned antelope stands out because it has an additional set of horns.

The distinctive quartet of antelope horns, not the usual two, crowns its head. The smaller pair of horns, nestled behind the dominant front two, extends just a few centimeters, while the impressive primary pair team is up to 10 cm long. The male antelopes are called buck, which can boast four horned crowns, while female antelopes, called does, are hornless antelopes.

The Four-horned Antelope is a herbivore on a grass, leaves, and fruits diet. It can thrive in open, dry, deciduous forests, grasslands, and lightly wooded areas. However, this animal is difficult to spot as it avoids human contact by hiding in tall grass or bushes. This small breed is energetic and can leap when feeling threatened.

9. Tibetan Antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Tibetan antelope, also known as the chiru, is a species native to the Tibetan plateau? Tibetan antelopes are also swift runners and can reach up to 60 miles per hour!

The Tibetan antelope is a tough survivor on the super-high Tibetan Plateau. They are known for their unique appearance, with a pale, yellowish-brown coat and long, pointed horns that can grow up to 70 cm in length.

This antelope has cool tricks to handle the harsh life. It has particular lungs and heart to breathe well in places with less air. Its fur is like a warm sweater, with two layers that keep it snug even in freezing weather.

The antelope is thoughtful about where it lives. In different seasons, it moves around to find food and avoid bad weather.

10. Royal Antelopes (Neotragus pygmaeus)

Fun Fact: The royal antelope (Neotragus pygmaeus) are commonly called "dwarf antelopes" due to their small size. It is one of the smallest antelope species known for its miniature stature4.

The royal antelope is a tiny animal found in West Africa's forests. It's one of the smallest kinds of antelopes and looks like a mini-deer species. It's only about 10 to 12 inches tall and weighs around 3 to 6.5 pounds.

These antelopes are shy and like to hide, so they come out at night and stay alone. They eat plants and live in thick forests and dense bushes.

11. Gerenuk Antelope (Litocranius walleri)

gerenuk antelope
Photo by 7523944 on Pixabay

Fun Fact: The gerenuk antelope has a funny name that means "giraffe-necked" in Somali. This is because it has a long neck, just like a giraffe. This special neck helps it eat leaves up high that other antelope species can't reach.

The gerenuk is known for its long, slender neck, which is why it's sometimes called the "giraffe gazelle or giraffe antelope." This adaptation allows it to stretch and reach high branches for food.

Gerenuks are currently listed as a species of "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), indicating they are not at immediate risk. However, they still face habitat loss and hunting threats in some areas.

12. Spiral Horned Antelopes (Tragelaphini)

Fun Fact: Did you know that spiral-horned antelopes are named after their distinct, impressive horns that spiral upward?

The horns of spiral-horned antelopes serve multiple purposes, including communication. They can make sounds by clashing their horns together, which helps them communicate with others in their group.

In most spiral-horned antelope species, only the males have horns. The horns feature heavily in competition for mates and territory.

13. Blue Duiker (Philantomba monticola)

blue duiker
Photo by derekkeats on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Blue Duiker is one of the smallest antelopes in the world, standing only about 14 inches tall?

The blue duiker is one of the tiniest antelopes, only about 12-14 inches tall and 5-10 pounds heavy. Despite the name, it's not blue. Its fur is grey-brown with a hint of bluish tint. These antelopes are secretive and like to stay alone, so they're hard to spot.

As small animals, blue duikers are preyed upon by various predators in their habitat, including larger carnivores like leopards, eagles, and snakes. While the blue duiker is not currently considered threatened globally, specific local populations may be vulnerable due to habitat loss and hunting.

14. Scimitar Horned Oryx (Oryx dammah)

scimitar horned oryx
Photo by jdblack on Pixabay

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Scimitar Horned Oryx was once extinct in the wild but has since been reintroduced through captive breeding programs?

The scimitar-horned oryx is known for its long, elegant, curved horns that resemble a scimitar sword. These horns can grow up to 3 to 4 feet (about 1 meter) in length.

To avoid the extreme daytime heat, they are primarily active during the cooler parts of the day, such as dawn and dusk.

They are classified as critically endangered species because of hunting and habitat loss. But people worked together to help and put them back in their homes. Now, in some places, their numbers are growing again.

15. Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx)

arabian oryx
Photo by Stanislav Ferrao on Unsplash

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Arabian Oryx is the national animal of Oman and is also featured on the country's coat of arms?

They are known for their white fur and long, straight horns. They live in the hot desert of the Arabian Peninsula and are good at saving water. The Arabian Oryx also have great cultural significance in the Arabian Peninsula and are the national animal of several regional countries. It is considered a symbol of beauty, freedom, and survival in harsh desert environments.

16. Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana)

pronghorn antelope
Photo by David Thielen on Unsplash

Fun Fact: Did you know the Pronghorn, or the American Antelope, is not an antelope? They belong to the old ruminant family Antilocapridae.

The Pronghorn, you might find, is a fascinating creature that calls North America its home. While commonly mistaken for an antelope, it stands as a unique species. Interestingly, Pronghorns are the fastest hoofed animal in North America, reaching speeds up to 55 mph. It evolved this speed to escape predators long ago.

Moving from the western parts of the United States to Canada and even northern Mexico, the Pronghorn could be more picky about its surroundings3. This creature adapts like a survivor in grasslands, deserts, or sagebrush plains. Speaking of survival instincts, its diet is as varied as its habitat. These animals prefer shrubs and grasses; their four-chambered stomach efficiently processes various plant species.

1

Wilson, V. J. (1965). OBSERVATIONS ON THE GREATER KUDU TRAGELAPHUS STREPSICEROS PALLAS FROM A TSETSE CONTROL HUNTING SCHEME IN NORTHERN RHODESIA. African Journal of Ecology.

2

Hillman, J. C. (1988). Home range and movement of the common eland (Taurotragus oryx Pallas 1766) in Kenya. African Journal of Ecology, 26(2), 135–148.

3

Gavin, S. G., & Komers, P. E. (2006). Do pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) perceive roads as a predation risk? Canadian Journal of Zoology, 84(12), 1775–1780.

4

Owen, J. (1973). BEHAVIOUR AND DIET OF A CAPTIVE ROYAL ANTELOPE, NEOTRAGUS PYGMAEUS L. Mammalia, 37(1).

By Chinny Verana, BSc.

Chinny Verana is a degree-qualified marine biologist and researcher passionate about nature and conservation. Her expertise allows her to deeply understand the intricate relationships between marine life and their habitats.

Her unwavering love for the environment fuels her mission to create valuable content for TRVST, ensuring that readers are enlightened about the importance of biodiversity, sustainability, and conservation efforts.

Fact Checked By:
Mike Gomez, BA.

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