The hartebeest is an amazing animal found in Tanzania and Kenya. You are bound to catch a glimpse of these strange creatures while on a safari in Africa. Don’t be surprised if your first impression is confusing. To most, they seem a deformed version of antelopes. They are a member of the antelope family and inhabit open grassy plains filled with trees.
The ancient Egyptians domesticated several hartebeests for sacrificial purposes. The population of these herbivores has seen a large dip and perhaps, for this reason, we should read and talk more about these four-legged creatures.
Physical Traits Of Hartebeest
The hartebeest is hunchback with a steep slope. Belonging to the antelope family, Hartebeest is fawn coloured. They are the most noted runners of their species. The shape and the speed of these animals led to them being called Hartebeest, which means “tough ox”. Their scientific name is Alcelaphus buselaphus. A variety is found in East Africa, namely, Hunter’s, Jackson’s, Lichtenstein’s and Coke’s.
Behaviour Of The Hartebeest
These animals are slow by nature, leading a sedentary lifestyle. This makes them famous amongst predators. However, when the seasons get drier and the scarcity of grass and water looms, Hartebeest move around a lot in packs. Males are rather territorial and will go on for long without water, only to protect his territory. Those that give in to thirst and hunger during moving periods, tend to lose their place as alphas to other males upon returning to their packs. They are more evolved when it comes to showing dominance. They, like other antelopes, resort to less violent measures to win a fight. Fatalities are rare.
The Young Ones
These animals exhibit a peculiar behavior when it comes to their young ones. Adult females remain in charge of young hartebeest (they have as many as four younger generations at a time). Young females remain close to their mothers, till they have calves of their own. Even the males stay with their mother for up to three years.
Availability of food influences mating. As long as the food is plenty, mating takes place all year long.
Since adults always surround the young ones, predators have a hard time catching them, bringing the mortality rate down.
Common predators are hyenas, jackals, lions, and hunter dogs.