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Order: even-toad ungulates (Artiodactyla), suborder: ruminants (Ruminantia), family: antelopes, sheep, goats, cattle (Bovidae).

The division of the bovidae into groups or subfamilies depends on authors. The one we have chosen is quite clear and easy to follow.









Tribe: horse antelopes / Hippotragini

Oryx antelopes (Oryx gazella beisa) are a subspecies of the South African gemsbok. The horns of the cows have the same length than the ones of males but are thinner. They are an efficient weapon against big cats. There is a strict rank order in the herd. Males dominate over females, but the dominant female leads the herd while the dominant bull guards and mates. They feed on leaves and grass and to obtain water in these dry areas they dig for bulbs and roots. They can survive in drier habitats than most large mammals. They endure extreme heat by letting body temperature raise up to 45C. Various canals in their nasal system evaporate humidity to keep the brain cool so it doesn’t get damaged by too high temperature.

Mostly one single calf is born during rainy season. Weight: Bulls 167 - 209 kg, females 116 - 188 kg. They occur in North Kenya (Samburu and Meru areas) as well as furhter North.
















Fringed- ear Oryx (Oryx gazella callotis) occurs in Tsavo National parks and further South in drier areas of Tanzania.






Sable antelope (Hippotragus niger). Males are black with white markings and curved horns, females and young are brown with white markings. Groups of 15 - 25 individuals move in a home range of 10 -25 sqkm overlapping with those of other groups. 1 young is born after 8 - 9 month pregnancy. In Kenya the only place to find them is in Shimba Hills, in Tanzania in Ruaha and Selous and further South. Weight bulls 235 kg, females 220 kg.

The brown Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) can in Kenya only be found at Lake Victoria in Ruma National park, in Tanzania in the Southern protected areas.






Tribe: Bushbucks / Tragelaphini


Eland antelopes (Tragelaphus (Taurotragus) oryx) weigh up to 900 kg (bulls) and are the largest antelopes. They move in herds of 25 – 60 individual. Both sexes have horns. Those of the bulls are thicker and stronger spiralled. They favour open bush land in many countries in Africa and have a similar system than the Oryx antelopes which allows them to raise their body temperature without being harmed. In the Masai Mara area are many big groups but all are shy. They roam the savannahs of a number of countries in Africa.

An old bull with coarse hair on the forehead.








Mountain Bongos (Tragelaphus (Boocercus) eruycerus isaaci) are critically endangered. In Kenya there are still a number of them in the Aberdares and within a fenced area at the foot of Mt. Kenya. This photo was taken at the KWS orphanage in Nairobi. The nocturnal forest antelopes build herds of
5 – 6 individuals. Bulls weight up to 400 kg, females 210 – 250kg.















Bushbucks (Tragelaphus scriptus) occur throughout Africa in bushy areas. The colour and white pattern vary according to the region.  Weight: bulls 40 - 80 kg, females 25 - 60 kg.


Males are darker than females and have horns. In the Aberdares they can be
met frequently, but you can also see them in other parks like Shimba Hills.















Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is a big and attractive antelope with spiral horns (only males) and stripes. They occur in many drier areas or bushy savannahs in Africa. Males can reach a shoulder height of 150 cm and weigh up to 220 kg. Females reach a 135 cm and 180. They are larger than the lesser Kudu sand have less stripes. The hard core of the herd consists of the females and young.  Sometimes males join them. They are mainly browsers. In Bogoria they have become used to cars and are by now often to be watched closely.















Lesser Kudus (Tragelaphus imberbis) are as the Greater Kudus mainly browser, but also take selectively grass and herbs. The differences are the size - Greater Kudu shoulder height 1.40 m, Lesser 1 m, the lesser has more stripes and white patches on the neck instead of the forehead. Lesser Kudus can be found in Kenya in Meru und both Tsavo parks, in Tanzania in Tarangire and Ruaha National parks.Kudus live in small herds, mothers with young and the dominant bull.







Kongoni kaempfend








Tribe: Hartebeest / Alcelaphini

Coke’s Hartebeest or Kongoni (Alcelaphus buselaphus cokii). The high placed eyes on the long head enable them to see danger over the grass while grazing. Bulls weigh up to 142 kg. Both sexes have horns. They can be seen mainly in the Serengeti/Mara ecosystem in Kenya and Tanzania.





Jacksons Hartebeest


Jackson’s hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus jacksoni). This subspecies occurs at few places scattered over Kenya. Places to see it are Lewa Downs, Ol Pejeta sanctuary and Ruma National park.













Topis (Damaliscus lunatus jimela) are considered to be the fastest antelopes. Herds consist of cows with their fawns born at the end of the rainy season (end of June). The fittest bull has most chances to mate. They defend their territory during mating season and chase rivals to any other time by running after them in a high speed. The new-borns hide out as long they do not eat grass. Topis move in the Mara/Serengeti area.Territorial and non-territorial Topis like standing on termite mounds especially during the hot time of the day. It provides a good view and it is cooler up there. Weight: bulls 130 kg, females 108 kg. Both sexes have horns.





Topi portrait


The pattern inside the ears is clearly visible. At some times Topis can build large congregations.







White-bearded wildebeests (Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus) are antelopes. Related females and their youngsters build small groups. The wildebeest migration consists of up to 1.5 Mio animals built by these family groups. Solitary males and bachelour groups move amoung them. They constantly move between Serengeti and Masai Mara. It is discribed on a separate page. Also Zebras, Thomson gazelles and Topis migrate with them. Weight: Bulls 200 – 274 kg, females  168 – 223 kg.








The calves are extrem followers. In average they run around after 15 minutes, record is only 7 minutes. They are all born in February in the Southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro range. This reduces the chance being taken by predators and the herds remain flexible to move.






Tribe: Water- and Reedbucks / Reduncini

Common waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus ellipsiprymnus). The mark on its rear looks like it sat on a freshly painted toilet seat. Common water bucks are even more dependent on water than the Defassa waterbuck. Males stay in bachelor groups, while 5 - 10 females and their young together with a dominant male. Widespread over Africa.












Defassa-Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa) depend on water and therefore can only exist where permanent water is available. Good places to see them at close range is Nakuru & Aberdares National park.

Weight: males up to 236 kg, females 186 kg. The calf hides out for the first 2 to 4 weeks with the mother nearby, they than join the group. Weaning is complete at 6 – 8 months.

Like in all antelopes the copulation only takes a few seconds. The ritualized foreplay goes on for days. The gestation period is 8 – 8.5 months. Males are territorial.







Bohor Reedbucks (Redunca redunca) prefer bushy areas with water. Females do not have horns. Their main diet is grass. In the mornings and evenings they come out to open places to graze and chew the cut later in a hidden place. Weight around 50 kg.







Mountain reedbucks (Redunca fulvorufula). This is the dominant male within about 7 females. Only males have horns. Their warning signal is a high pitched whistle. Weight around 50 kg.

The distribution of both species overlaps in some places in Kenya.














Tribe: Impalas / Aepycerotini

Impala (Aepyceros melampus) is probably the most spread antelope in Africa. They inhabit different biotopes, eat grass and leaves and can stay without water for some time. During mating season the territorial male tries to keep as many females near him as possible, sometimes more than 50. He chases competitors by running after them snorting loudly. If that does not keep the other one off than they have to fight. Fights among antelopes are ritualized and injuries are rare. Within the bachelor group a rank order is undergoing constant changes. Impalas congregate with other antelopes or baboons. Only males have these beautiful horns. Weight: males 53 - 76 kg, females 40 - 53 kg. (Photos Charly Grimm)










Born just a while ago. The mother eats the covering skin and after about 1 hour the baby already follows the mother. Females stay away from the group to give birth and rejoin after 2-3 days. The fawns stay in a kindergarten within the sight of guarding mothers.  (Photos Charly Grimm)








Tribe: Gazelles / Antilopini

In Grant’s gazelle only males (Nanger (Gazella) granti) have long horns, the female’s horns are only 12 – 18 cm long and thin. They can coop with various habitats ranging from half desert to open savannah. They do not like tall grass and feed on leaves and grass. In the Serengeti they form herds of up to 400 individuals. Males show their dominance as long as a female herd is within their territories. When the herd moves on he is bachelor again, but still keeps his territory since another herd or the same one might return. Weight: males up to 65 kg, females 45 kg. Widespread in Africa.


















Above: left male of Nanger granti raineyi, Samburu, right male of Nanger granti granti, Masai Mara, below left Nager granti robertsi, Robert’s Gazelle mainly in the Serengti.

A Grant gazelle mother and a calf. Calves hide out for the first 4 – 6 weeks. They differ from the smaller Thomson’s gazelles by lacking or having less clear black side stripes and brighter colour.








Roberts Gazelle
Grantgazelle mit Jungem










Thomson’s gazelles (Eudorcas (Gazella) thomsoni) favour short grass plains in East Africa. Males have long spiraled horns, females short and thin ones. During mating season two times a year the males become territorial. Fresh born press themselves on the ground near bushes or in a small depression and are very hard to be seen. The mother grazes within a short distance carefully looking out for jackals or hyenas. Fawns are often taken by jackals while the adult gazelles are hunted by cheetahs. Weight: Males 17 - 29 kg, females 13 - 24 kg.

Thomson’s gazelles migrate together with wildebeests and zebras and are part of the great migration. They fill the same ecological niche like Springbocks in Southern Africa.







Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri) is a graceful antelope with long legs and neck. They occupy dry acacia bush land in Kenya and further North. Feeding on their hind legs allows them to reach where other antelopes do not have access to. They fill a niche between giraffes and other antelopes. You find them mostly in small groups, some females and the male. They are quite water independent. Weight: Males 45 kg, females 31 kg.








Tribe: Duikers / Cephalophini

The name duiker derives from the Dutch word for duck under. They ran through and hide in thicket. Therefore there horns are mostly pointing backwards. These small antelopes are mainly active during the night and distributed over many areas in Africa. Most duikers are solitary and the females slightly larger with much smaller horns. They mark their territory with a sticky secretion from the preorbital gland. Black line on the picture.

Common or Gray Duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia). Average weight 12 – 13 kg. They can be met in a number of parks in East Africa.







Tribe: dwarf antelopes / Neotragini

Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris) prefer bushy habitats. Mostly you meet them alone and very shy. It seems that some times a pair lives together. Polygamy doesn't exist. The males have short horns, female don't have. Characteristic is the black spot above the nose. Females weigh 11.3 kg and are slightly larger than the ram. Widespread in Africa.







Damara or Kirk's Dikdik (Madoqua kirkii). The young is hiding for some days after birth and is raised by both parents. The black spot in front of the eye is the preorbital gland. With the produced sticky and smelling secretion they mark their small territories between bushes by sticking it on branches and twigs. Additionally they place their tiny dung in hips along the boundary. The male defends it against intruders. With only 38 cm shoulder height they belong to the smallest antelopes. The female is slightly larger and weighs around 5.5 kg. Widespread in Africa.







Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) They stand on tips of truncated hooves which allow them safely to jump around on rocks. They live in pairs while the male is mostly guarding over the grazing female. She needs this energy to produce offspring. Mainly in the mornings and evenings they can be seen in different parks when coming out from the day’s hiding place. The female is without horn and is with 13.2 kg slightly larger than the male. Widespread in Africa.







The Oribi (Ourebia ourebi) is a smaller antelope occupying areas with tall grass and bushes. They live as singles or in pairs. Characteristic is the black spot under the ear and the white tummy. The female has no horns and is slightly larger than the ram. Weight 14 kg. They are widespread in bushy savanna.







Suni (Neotragus moschatus). With only 30 to 43 cm height they do belong to the smallest antelopes. They feed on plants and fungi and are mostly independent on water. Only males have 10 to 13 cm long horns. Being nocturnal and forest animals they are very hard to be seen. The photo was taken at the animal orphanage at Mount Kenya Safari Club.