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The antelope is one of the fastest land animals in the world
With its elegant, bounding leap, the antelope is an animal that roams the forests and plains of Africa and Asia, relying on its incredible speed and agility to elude the most fearsome predators. Although very common and widespread, it still faces enormous dangers from excessive hunting and poaching.
The antelope is an animal that has played an important role in human medicine and culture. In some African traditions, it is commonly associated with the wind.
The antelopes horns are composed of keratin. This is the same substance found in nails, hair, claws, and hooves. However, as opposed to deer, which the antelope is often compared to, antelopes keep the same horns for their entire lives instead of shedding them every year.
The structure and shape of antelope horns vary widely. Some horns form spirals, others are curved, and yet others have ridges. Experts can often distinguish antelope species based merely on the appearance of their horns.
Antelope is more an informal classification than a scientific one. There is no single scientific name that includes all these animals. Instead, the name antelope describes any deer-like animals within the family Bovidae that has a similar appearance and physiology.
It is generally accepted that there are several distinct subfamilies that fall within the general term of antelope, but this is still a matter of scientific debate. Due to the lack of precise scientific criteria, there are many different edge cases. For instance, the pronghorn, or the American antelope, is not actually a true antelope at all. Thegiraffeis more closely related to the pronghorn than the antelopes.
Antelopes are incredibly widespread animals. They make up approximately 91 of the 140 or so known species of the Bovidae family, which also includessheepgoats, anddomesticated cattle. More distantly, they belong to the order of Artiodactyla withgiraffesandpigs. The most distinctive feature of this order is the even number of hooves. The name antelope came to us from the original Greek via the Medieval Latin, but the actual meaning of the word is currently unknown.
Because of its massive diversity, it is difficult to talk about a single characteristic or appearance of the antelope. Most tend to have adeer-like appearance with spikes or corkscrew horns, but the largest members of the group almost resemble a cross between a deer and cattle.
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There are generally two types of antelope, which vary by habitat. Small to medium animals such as the duikers and reedbucks are more adapted to concealed cover in forests andwetlands. Thanks to their short legs, round back, and large rear end, they are capable of fast, sporadic movements to elude predators. These animals have camouflaged colorings or markings to provide an extra layer of defense. They tend to forage on foliage by themselves but then pair together with mates monogamously during the breeding season.
The larger antelopes, on the other hand, are built for thedeserts, open plains, and savannas. They graze on the grass and rely on pure speed to help them avoid predators. They tend to congregate into large herds in which a dominant male will mate with multiple females. The size of the herd can vary quite a bit. Some herds consist of no more than 10 or 20 individuals, while other antelopes have herds of thousands, which can make for quite the spectacle on the open plains. These herds may undertake large migrations during certain parts of the year in search of new food reservoirs and grazing land.
Antelopes vary dramatically in size between the small royal antelope, which weighs a mere 4 pounds, and the truly gigantic eland, which weighs up to 1,800 pounds, or about as much as some cattle. The topi is perhaps the longest, reaching nearly 9 feet. Males tend to have larger bodies and horns than females, but in a few species, the females may lack horns altogether, or they will have smaller horns than the males.
Like many other bovids, the entire body of the antelope is remarkably well adapted for the consumption and digestion of vegetation. It has a multi-chambered stomach filled with specialized bacteria to ferment and break down the tough cellulose of the plant matter. The antelope will also regurgitate the food as cud and chew it again with its well-developed molar teeth to aid in digestion.
Another important feature is the antelopes visual acuity. They have horizontal pupils located on the side of the head that enable them to see predators coming from the periphery of their vision. The acute sense of smell also aids in communication. Specialized fluids secreted from scent glands around the face, knees, and hooves allow them to mark territory and communicate with other members. Antelopes also have a suite of whistles, barks, bleats, grunts, and moos. These vocalizations serve as a means of alarm calls, warnings, or greetings.
Approximately 71 species of antelopes inhabit the African continent. Most of the remaining antelopes are found in Asia, including the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian steppes. These animals were once prevalent across Europe and the Americas before going extinct there. No known antelopes have ever evolved in Australia.
As mentioned previously, antelopes tend to live exclusively in either forests or open plains, rarely mixing between the two. The habitation dictates the survival strategies of each species, from body size to diet to social organization.
The antelopes feed almost exclusively on vegetation. The only exception is the duiker (a small- or medium-sized antelope located in forests), which supplements its herbivorous diets with small amounts of meat from mammals,insects, andbirds.
There are generally two types of foraging strategies: browsers and grazers. Browsers tend to feed on leaves, seeds, fruits, flowers, and bark close to the ground. Grazers tend to consume grasses and similar vegetation. The gerenuk and dibatags have a unique strategy of standing on their hind legs to reach leaves in tall trees. It takes an enormous amount of time to break down the plant matter into a usable form, but this strategy is highly beneficial, since foliage and grazing land can support a large number of antelopes at a single time.
These animals spend a great deal of their time searching for and feeding on food. In order to find adequate sources, some antelopes have cleverly offloaded the work to other animals. They will actively followbirdflocks,monkeytroops, or migratingzebrasin search of prime foraging grounds.
Antelopes are some of the most common prey animals inAfrica. They make a tempting meal forcheetahslionshyenas, civets, pythons, and large birds. Because of the antelopes incredible speed, many predators prefer to sneak up on them and pick off individual stragglers. The cheetah, as one of the few animals fast enough to catch them, relies on its pure speed. These chases often make for spectacular footage on nature documentaries.
These animals have a number of strategies to deal with a dangerous predator, the most important of which is their speed and agility. If the animal cannot evade its pursuer outright, then it may try to hide in water or foliage. Some species will actually freeze in place to avoid being noticed. If everything else fails, then the antelope may stand its ground and defend itself with its sharp horns.
Antelopes are hunted byhumansfor both their horns and their meat. Some cultures have local taboos against antelope hunting. However, the animal can still become accidentally ensnared in traps. Habitat loss is another significant threat to many types of antelopes.
Antelopes pursue so many different courtship and mating rituals that it is difficult to discuss all of them in detail. Breeding strategies can vary between full monogamy and a dominant breeding pair within a herd. In other species, males compete with each other every season for the right to breed with females.
Once the female is impregnated, gestation lasts anywhere between four and nine months. The mother produces only a single calf at a time, while twins are relatively rare. Because the calf is highly vulnerable at birth, they generally has two different strategies to protect the young. Most antelopes prefer to hide the calf in a concealed location, while the mother rejoins the herd or hunts on its own.
In the second strategy, the calf is expected to begin traveling immediately with the herd from almost the moment it is born. In exchange, the herd provides additional protection for the young calf.
Age of maturity varies widely between species. Some of these animals species come of age in as little as six months. Some take as long as eight years to fully develop. The females usually mature faster than the males on average. Lifespan likewise can vary between three years and 28 years based on the species.
According to theIUCN Red List, around a quarter of antelope species are currently threatened by extinction, and several have already gone extinct in the 19th and 20th centuries. But even among those groups in good health, many appear to be in decline and could face pressure in the future due to hunting and declining habitats. Exact population numbers are not known.
TheSan Diego Zoo Safari Parkhas perhaps the largest collection of these animals in the United States, including springboks, lechwes, waterbucks, sables, roan antelope, gazelles, white-bearded gnu (a type ofwildebeest), blesboks, and many more. One of the most important denizens is a breeding herd of saigas, acritically endangeredantelope that inhabits the Eurasian steppe. The zoo has bred more than 100saiga calvesin captivity and also assists with conservation efforts across Russia.
If you dont live near San Diego, then there are still several ways to see live antelopes. TheLittle Rock Zooin Arkansas contains three species of antelopes: the yellow-backed duiker, the greaterkudu, and the dik-dik. The Buffalo Zoo contains the roan antelope and the addax. TheSaint Louis Zoohas the addax, the lesserkudu, Spekes gazelle, and the gerenuk. Finally, theSmithsonians National Zoocontains the dama gazelle and thescimitar-horned oryx.
An antelope is one of many horned herbivorous deer-like species with even-toed hooves. There is no single scientific classification of antelopes, but rather multiple distinct groups.
Because of their immense diversity, it is difficult to classify antelopes into specific types. They are dispersed among many different subfamilies, tribes, and genera. Just to give you some idea of how scattered the classification is, the eland is actually part of the subfamily Bovinae with bison and domesticated cattle, even though its considered an antelope. However, the following groups generally contain the majority of antelope species.
Antilopinae Often referred to as the true antelopes, this subfamily contains the greatest number of antelopes, including the gazelles, springboks, blackbucks, and dibatags.
Reduncinae This subfamily prefers marshes, wetlands, and floodplains. It includes the reedbucks and waterbucks.
Hippotraginae This subfamily includes a number of grazing antelopes with large bodies and thick necks, among them the oryx, the roan antelope, and the sable antelope.
Cephalophinae This subfamily of forested antelopes is also known as the duikers.
Alcelaphinae This includes large antelopes like wildebeests, hartebeests, and bonteboks.
The answer depends entirely on the species. The springboks are among the fastest antelopes in the world. They can run nearly more than 50 MPH for short bursts and 30 MPH at a consistent pace. But even smaller antelopes can be fast enough to evade some predators.
The vast majority of antelopes live in the forests, savannas, wetlands, and deserts of sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the remaining antelopes live in Asia.
Antelopes feed almost exclusively on vegetation. Their physiology is highly adapted for this herbivorous lifestyle. The only exception is the duiker, which also consumes meat in limited quantities.
Antelope belong to the Kingdom Animalia.
Antelope belong to the phylum Chordata.
Antelope belong to the class Mammalia.
Antelope belong to the family Bovidae.
Antelope belong to the order Artiodactyla.
What type of covering do Antelope have?
What are some distinguishing features of Antelope?
Antelope have long legs and curved antlers.
What are some predators of Antelope?
Predators of Antelope include lions, cheetahs, and crocodiles.
What is the average litter size for an Antelope?
The average litter size for an Antelope is 1.
What is an interesting fact about Antelope?
Antelope renew their horns every year!
What is the lifespan of an Antelope?
Antelope can live for 10 to 25 years.
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