Antelope, name applied to a large number of hoofed, ruminant mammals of the cattle family (Bovidae), which also includes the sheep and goats and sometimes called an antelope, but belongs to a separate, related family (Antilocapridae). True antelopes are found only in Africa and Asia (Uganda is home to an impressive 29 species of antelope, including the eland – the world’s largest antelope, which can measure up to 180cm at the shoulder!
Other large species include the greater kudu, which has long, elegant spiral horns and white side stripes; Jackson’s hartebeest – an unusual, flat-faced creature found only in Uganda, and the shaggy waterbuck – often found near rivers and lakes, as their name suggests.
Fascinating yet rarely seen is the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope, whose splayed hooves are adapted for life in the papyrus swamps. Much more common are Grant’s gazelle, which can live in herds of hundreds of individuals, and the pretty Uganda kob – Uganda’s national antelope), though can also be found in Middle East and North America. Antelopes can be found in grasslands, mountains, deserts and wetlands. There are 90 different species of antelopes. 25 of them are endangered. They range in size from pygmy antelopes, 12 in. (30 cm) high at the shoulder, to the giant eland, with a shoulder height of over 6 ft (180 cm). Most types stand 3 to 4 ft (90–120 cm) high. The horns of antelopes, unlike the antlers of deer, are unbranched, consist of a chitinous shell with a bony core, and are not shed.
Interesting Antelope Facts:
v Male antelopes are called bucks, females – does and young antelopes – calves.
v Depending on the species, 4-9 months after mating season, baby antelope will be born. Baby antelope is an easy target and mother keeps it on the secret location until it becomes stronger.
v The young antelopes join the large group, they spend most of their time with other youngsters in the herd.
v All antelopes have even-toed hooves, horizontal pupils, stomach adapted for re-chewing of the food (they are ruminants, just like all cows) and bony horns.
v They live in the large groups called herds, Antelopes are herbivores; they eat grass, shots and seeds.
v Antelopes use horns for fight against other antelopes during mating season and to protect themselves, or the herd, from the predators.
v Antelopes have extremely developed senses which help them detect predators while they still have time to escape.
v They are quick runners; some of them can reach up to 43 miles per hour. Largest antelope (Eland) is the slowest.
v Antelopes don’t replace their horns annually. They grow continuously throughout their entire life.
v Horns are typical for all males, but they could be seen in some females also few Asian antelope species have 4 instead of two horns. Horns in some species may grow up to 5 feet in length.
v Antelopes live around 10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.
N.B Antelopes can be seen in all Uganda’s National Parks like;
Queen Elitherbeth National Park
Lake Mbulo National Park
Muchion fall National Park
Kiddepo National Park