The Bontebok, also known as Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi, is a subspecies of Damaliscus pygargus, an antelope commonly found in Lesotho, South Africa, and Namibia. Back in the day, there were only 17 Bonteboks around the world, but now their population has dramatically risen over the years because of local conservation efforts. According to Matt Miller, this antelope species stands out from their family because of one unique characteristic. Quoting Miller, “Many African antelopes are known for their dramatic jumping ability. The springbok, for instance, can jump 13 feet in the air. Other species like kudu and impala have similar athletic abilities. A fence presents no obstacle for these animals. Not so with the Bontebok. It can make little leaps, but it cannot clear even a basic livestock fence — the only fence available in the 1800s.”
This antelope species was first discovered by Prussian zoologist and botanist Peter Simon Pallas in 1767. Since their population appears to be on a stable rise, this antelope species was categorized as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Even though the Bontebok’s population appears to be on a stable rise, it remains one of South Africa’s rare antelopes.
Its nine levels of scientific classification are as follows:
Species: D. pygargus
Subspecies. D. p. pygarus
The physical characteristics of a Bontebok
The Bontebok has a staggering beauty, making it such a beautiful sight to behold in the wild. This animal is characterized by sturdy, striped ring-shaped horns and the striking white markings on the face and torso.
It is considered a tall, medium-sized antelope that usually stands from 80 to 100 cm in shoulder height, and 120 to 210 cm along its head and body. Its tail can range between 30 and 60 cm. An adult Bontebok weighs 50 to 155 kg.
A male Bontebok is usually heavier than a female one. Both sexes have chocolate brown body color with a purple iridescent luster. Its face has a white stripe that starts from its forehead down to the tip of its nose. This facial marking is regarded as a threat mask that resembles a medieval knight’s helmet. It has a white belly, white tail, and white feet that look like socks. It has a stout neck that is rich brown in color.
The distribution and habitat of Bonteboks
Bonteboks can only be found in southern Africa, particularly in Namibia, South Africa, and Lesotho. They take refuge in the Highveld, where they graze for short grasses, and the coastal Fynbos. They are also found in protected areas such as the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga, Bontebok National Park in Swellendam, De Hoop Nature Reserve near Bredasdorp, and Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town.
Back in the day, this antelope species is present in the coastal plain of southwestern Cape, South America.
The behavior of a Bontebok
This antelope species is primarily diurnal, resting during the heat of the day. Bonteboks form groups and are often seen standing with lowered heads against the sunlight. They can go for a few days without water; however, when water is available, they will drink at least once a day.
As previously said, Bonteboks are not excellent jumpers, unlike other antelope species. However, they are great at crawling underneath things. Male Blesboks usually form territories and face other males during disputes, wherein they spar by locking horns.
Like other antelope species, Bonteboks communicate through snorting and grunting. They use their feces, urine, and scent glands located on their hind feet to mark their territories.
During the mating season, males court females through performing a courtship ritual. This display is characterized by a male Blesbok, who lowers his head and lifts his tail over his back. Both male and female will rotate in small circles before they copulate.
After seven or eight months, the female Blesbok will give birth to calves without horns. They will acquire horns during the first few months of their life.
The diet of a Blesbok
As grazers, Blesboks are primarily herbivores. Their diet is made up of different short grasses and plants. As diurnal grazers, they feed during the morning and evening, then as a group, they seek shade and shelter during the hottest time of the day.
WILDLIFE PARKS AND RESERVES WHERE THIS SPECIES IS FOUND:
• Cape Peninsula National Park