Blesbok Bontebok

Damaliscus pygargus

TAXONOMY

Antilope pygargus (Pallas, 1767), Cape Province, South Africa. Two subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Blesbok bontebok, Damalisque a front blanc; German: Blessbok, Buntbok; Spanish: Blesbok.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 4.6-5.3 ft (140-160 cm); shoulder height 2.8-3.3 ft (85-100 cm); tail 12-18 in (30-45 cm); 121-220 lb (55-100 kg). Horns 14-20 in (35-50 cm). Dark brown coat, white belly and inside legs. White face patch, ears.

DISTRIBUTION

D. p. phillipsi east-central South Africa; D. p. dorcas small area of southwestern Cape.

HABITAT

Grasslands of the highveld and coastal plains.

BEHAVIOR

Male bontebok hold permanent territories of 10-69 acres (4-28 ha). Blesbok males defend territories of 22-101 acres (9-41 ha) only during the rut; in the dry season, both sexes and all ages may congregate in large herds.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Predominantly grazers, although blesbok browse occasionally.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Rutting in March-May (blesbok) and January-March (bonte-bok). Polygynous. Gestation 238-254 days. Female stays with herd when giving birth to young in November-January (bles-bok) and September-November (bontebok). Weaned after four months; sexually mature at 2.5 years. Longevity 17 years.

CONSERVATION STATUS

The blesbok is Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent. Its distribution is largely artificial and it occurs in protected herds on fenced reserves and farms. The bontebok is Vulnerable. It was hunted almost to extinction in the nineteenth century, but was saved by protection from a few enlightened farmers. After the establishment of the Bontebok National Park in 1931, numbers increased and stocks were introduced to other farms and reserves.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Both races were formerly hunted extensively. ♦

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