Antelope

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Category: Animal Info Pages


antelopeThe term antelope refers to a large miscellaneous group of ungulates within the family Bovidae.  Included are the impalas, kudus, elands, nyalas, duikers, royal antelope, klipsrpingers, oiribis, dik-diks, gazelles, springbok, gerenuk, blackbuck, roans, sables, oryxes, addaxes, reedbucks, kobs, lechwes, waterbucks, hartebeests, wildebeests, and topis.  This is the group of hooved Old World species which are not classified as cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, or goats.  The word antelope first appears in 1417, and its etymology is thought to derive from the Greek word "anthos" meaning flower, and "ops" meaning eye.  Some speculate that the term alludes to the animals beautiful eyes, or perhaps their long eye lashes.  

 

Being such a large group, the coloration and sizes of antelope are incredibly varied among species.   On the smaller end of the spectrum, an adult royal antelope may only stand 9 1/2 inches at the shoulder, weighing in at just over 3 pounds, while its larger cousin the eland can grow to 70 inches at the shoulder and weigh over 2,000 pounds. This is mostly due to environment and morphology, though all species of antelope share the even-toed hooves, horizontal pupils, ruminating stomachs, and bony horns of bovids.

 

There are roughly 90 species of antelope, 25 of which are rated by the IUCN as endangered.  Habitat loss, competition for grazing land with domesticated animals, trophy hunting, and the pursuit of certain species' antlers all play a role in the antelope's diminished numbers.  Most antelope are native to Africa, though some are also native to Asia. No extant species are native to Australia, Antarctica, or the Americas, though certain species have been imported to places like Texas for use in game ranch hunts.  With their amazing ability to leap and run, and a climate similar to their native habitats, it's no wonder many wild populations of antelope can be found there.