Handsome, unique, and sought-after by hunters, meet the antelope of the spiral-horned family. The spiral-horned antelope of the African continent fall under what is known as ‘the bushbuck tribe’, or tragelaphine.
Members of the tribe include the bushbuck, sitatunga, nyala, mountain nyala, lesser kudu, greater kudu, bongo, common eland, and derby or giant eland.
Trangelaphine antelopes come in three different models: all, of course, are distinguished by the spiral shape of their horns.
Characterized by a narrow body, deep chest rounded back, and hindquarters being more developed and higher than forequarters.
Which is tall and lean with long, equally developed limbs and a level back.
A massive animal more like an ox than an antelope, which makes it a slow runner but a great jumper.
The bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), part of the forest-antelope model, is a colorful, sizable antelope.
The bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), part of the forest-antelope model, is a colorful, sizable antelope that hides in patches of woody vegetation all over the continent. With a rounded back and powerful hindquarters.
The horns are nearly straight, with only one twist. Their coats are individually and geographically variable, with eastern and southern forms (as you would encounter in South Africa) being yellower with fewer markings.
Although bushbucks do not herd together, up to a dozen may feed peacefully in the same clearing in the late afternoon. Bushbucks from the same neighborhood are all acquainted and often greet one another in a friendly manner.
It would be more accurate to call this animal loosely and casually sociable, kept separate by feeding and anti-predator strategies that favor the separation of individuals.
From sea level to mountain moors at 10,000 ft (3000 m) and the edges of rain forests to patches of gallery forest and bush near water in the sub-desert regions, bushbucks inhabit any wild areas of sub-Saharan Africa where there is enough cover to conceal them.
They depend on this concealment to avoid predators, and tend to only venture into the open at night to feed. A bushbuck is not only effectively camouflaged while standing in cover, but also while lying down in the open at night.
You will almost always find the bushbuck near water since the dense cover where it spends its days is most abundant along water courses.
Both grazer and browser, the bushbuck eats tender green grass but mainly browses herbs and foliage of shrubby legumes.
Fond of fruits and flowers, it often forages under trees where monkeys and hornbills are feeding.
The nyala (Tragelaphus angasii) is also part of the forest-antelope model and carries a bushbuck ‘body plan’, but with more extreme gender differences.
The males boast longer, shaggy coats, including a dark fringe from their throats to their hindquarters, and the longest spinal crest in the tribe.
Their upper bodies and limbs are dark, charcoal grey, with tan-colored lower legs. They have fewer stripes than the females, or occasionally no stripes at all.
The basic social unit is a female with her latest and next-to-latest offspring. Herds consist of two or more units. Only females guarding hidden calves stay alone.
Although herds appear temporary and fluid, daughters tend to stay home and continue their association with their mothers after becoming mothers themselves.
Males 1.5 to 3 years old associate even more casually than females, in twos and threes, rarely up to nine males, and herd membership seldom remains unchanged for even two hours. Males become more solitary as they mature in their sixth year.
The sexes stay segregated except when an estrous female is located, or when nyalas aggregate (up to 30, rarely up to 100) on a green pasture, at water holes, or in fruiting trees.
Found only in south-eastern Africa, the nyala’s range has been greatly reduced. They are closely tied to thickets and densely wooded lowlands generally near water, with access to high-quality grassland.
During the spring and summer months, they spend the hottest hours in deep cover, typically standing motionless and almost invisible beside trees.
During the cooler winter days, they rest in light shade in the open. Most nyalas are inactive between midnight and dawn.
Adapting to seasonal changes, they graze on fresh green grass during the rains and browse leaves, various fruits, and herbs during the dry season, drinking daily.
Much like the bushbuck, nyalas spend the day in or near cover, emerging at night to feed in grassland.
The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is the second-tallest antelope, with the most spectacular horns. Part of the broken-ground / jumping model.
These antelopes are narrow-bodied and long-legged. Their coats are smooth but for the beautiful spinal crests and shaggy beards. Their colors range from red-brown to blue-grey, with males turning darker with age.
They have around six to ten torso stripes, prominent white nose chevrons, small cheek spots, and dark garters on the upper legs. Black-tipped tails with white undersides complete the handsome image of the kudu.
Being a gourmet browser of sorts, the graceful Kudu eats many kinds of leaves, herbs, and fallen fruits. It may also vines, tubers, succulents, and flowers. Even sometimes varied with a little new grass.
Greater kudu roams much of eastern and southern Africa, from Chad nearly to the Red Sea, south to the Cape Province, west to Namibia, and north to mid-Angola.
Adept at concealment and catholic in diet, it is one of the few large mammals that thrives in settled areas (in the scrub woodland and bush that reclaims abandoned fields and degraded pastures).
Being larger than the nyala and significantly larger than the bushbuck, the kudu’s need for concealment limits its habitat choices. The kudu’s preferred habitat includes mixed scrub woodland, acacia, and mopane bush on lowlands, hills, and mountains.
Common elands are spiral-horned antelopes. Common elands live on the open plains of Southern Africa and along the foothills of the great southern African plateau.
The common eland is the slowest antelope, with a peak speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) that tires them quickly. However, they can maintain a trot indefinitely.
Their coat differs geographically, and apart from a rough mane, the coat is smooth. Females have a tan coat, while the coats of males are darker, with a bluish-grey tinge
They eat in the morning and evening, rest in the shade when hot, and remain in the sunlight when cold. They are commonly found in herds numbering up to 500, with individual members remaining in the herd from several hours to several months.
Juveniles and mothers tend to form larger herds, while males may separate into smaller groups or wander individually.
Eland herds are accompanied by a loud clicking sound that has been subject to considerable speculation. The weight of the animal may cause the two halves of its hooves to splay apart, and the clicking is the result of the hoof snapping together when the animal raises its leg. The sound carries some distance from a herd and may be a form of communication.
Common elands live on the open plains of Southern Africa and along the foothills of the great southern African plateau. The species extends north into Ethiopia and most arid zones of South Sudan, west into eastern Angola and Namibia, and south to South Africa.
Elands prefer to live in semiarid areas that contain many shrub-like bushes, and often inhabit grasslands, woodlands, sub desert, bush, and mountaintops.
Common elands are herbivores that browse during drier winter but have also adapted to grazing during the rainy season when grasses are more common and nutritious.
They require a high-protein diet of succulent leaves from flowering plants but will consume lower-quality plant material if available, including forbs, trees, shrubs, grasses, seeds, and tubers.
Most of their water is obtained from their food, though they drink water when available.
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