All About Antelope

The classification of antelope is used to describe many mammals within the Family Bovidae. For that reason, many animals that are thought to be antelope turn out to be something else entirely.

What You Should Know

Every antelope contains horns made from keratin. These horns remain permanently attached to the head and don’t shed like a deer’s. There are varying horn designs from ridged to twisting.

Many antelope are native to Africa, but you can also find some in Asia and the Middle East. They prefer to live in open grasslands, wooded areas or the rain forest. The antelope is a herbivore, but some species have been seen eating small mammals, birds, and insects. Otherwise, they are content to feast on small trees and bushes.

What Sound Do They Make?

Depending on the species, you may hear varying sounds. Some make a bleat, bellow, moo, or grunt. With a gerenuk antelope, you hear a combination between a moan and a grunt. Many of the species will also make a sound resembling a dog’s bark if they feel threatened.

Enjoy the calming sounds of the antelope with this interesting video clip.

Group Characteristics

The antelope does prefer to live in a small herd and will migrate to find food. Once the antelope has mated, the female gives birth to one or two calves. The newborns are vulnerable to predators, which is why the female births the calves in dense cover. If she leaves to feed, she covers the newborns with the vegetation. While in this hiding place, the calves don’t move at all unless they’re about to be discovered.

How Many are There?

There are large populations of antelope, but some species have made it to the IUCN endangered list. Loss of habitat, poaching, game hunting plus the loss of grazing land due to cattle farming has hurt the population.

The Saiga antelope and Tibetan antelope are both hunted for medicinal purposes, making them two of the most threatened species. Aside from hunting, the antelope are pursued by many predators. Hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, civets, lions, wild dogs and snakes will eat an antelope. Larger birds eat the young calves, but antelope have some tricks that keep them safe.

Depending on the situation, antelopes will freeze in place, sound an alarm, run with intense speed, jump in a strange pattern or hide to avoid danger. Some species also give off an odor to deter some predators. When all else fails, they will resort to using their horns in battle.

Watch a Video

Here’s a short documentary available about the antelope in Africa.

In this video, you can see how lions hunt antelope.

Pop Culture

Antelope can be seen in The Lion King and The Lion King 2. In the first movie, Simba talks with his father about how lions eat antelope then die and become part of the grass. After that, antelope eat the grass, thereby completing the “Circle of Life.” In the animated movie, Khumba, we also see Gemsboks which are a species of antelope.

Interesting Facts

Antelope run fast. They aren’t the fastest animal in the world, but they make quick and precise turns to throw off their enemies. That’s how they gain an advantage over predators such as the cheetah who can sprint faster than the antelope.

The desert antelope doesn’t need to drink water. Instead, they get everything needed from their food.

The klipspringer antelope jumps 15 times its height, making it the highest jumper in relation to body size. An impala is also pretty impressive with the ability to soar up to ten feet.