Hartebeest - At Home on the African Range

HartebeestHartebeests (Alcelaphus buselaphus) are the African antelope. Had Dr. Brewster M. Higley, who wrote the poem "Home on the Range," visited Africa, the poem might well have said: "Home, home on the range, where the deer and the hartebeests roam." In 1876 when Dr. Higley penned the now famous poem, it ranged the entirety of Africa from Morocco and Egypt in the north, to South Africa, Nambia, and Botswana in South. Now, due largely to the extinction of the Bubal Hartebeest that grazed the grasslands and forests of Northern Africa, hartebeests are no longer found in the north.

The word hartebeest is derived the Dutch word for deer, hertebeest. In general, they stand nearly 5 feet at the shoulder (1.5m) and weigh between 265-440 lbs. (120-200 kg). Their body style is more muscular than other antelope with high withers and sloping hindquarters. Their elongated head gives them a horsey countenance.
Both males and females have horns that can extend as long as 27 inches (70 cm).

The shape of the hartebeest's horns is one way to determine the specific subspecies. There are three basic horn patterns for the hartebeests:

• The U-shaped horns distinguish hartebeests that graze in the west African countries of Cambela, Nigeria, and Cameroon.
• The V-shaped horns are found on hartebeests in southern Africa.
Female hartebeests form small groups to provide safety for their young. Male hartebeests move away from the herd and become more solitary as the reach sexual maturity. Whether alone or in herds, hartebeests keep a constant vigil for natural predators that include cheetahs, jackals, lions, hyenas, and leopards. In addition to natural predators, hartebeests are also hunted by humans for food and for sport.

There are many subspecies of hartebeests: Coke's, Jackson's, Red, Swayne's , Lelwel, Tora, and Bubal to name a few. Only one is extinct, the Bubal Hartebeest. The Bubal Hartebeests were once domesticated by the Egyptians as a food source. Horns from the Bubal Hartebeest found in the tombs at Abadiyeh give credence to the animal's importance to ancient Egyptian culture. Unfortunately, the Bubal Hartebeest was widely hunted, and the last Bubal Hartebeest died in 1923 in the Paris Zoo.

Picture of the red hartebeest by Hans Hillewaert, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Keywords: brown , yellow , horn , diurnal

The Common hartebeest, hartebeest is listed as Conservation Dependent (LR/cd), the focus of a continuing taxon-specific or habitat-specific conservation programme targeted towards the taxon in question, the cessation of which would result in the taxon qualifying for one of the threatened categories below within a period of five years, on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Some facts about the
Hartebeest

Adult weight : 159 kg (349.8 lbs)

Maximum longevity : 23 years

Female maturity :730 days

Gestation : 247 days

Weaning : 193 days

Litter size : 1

Litters per year : 1

Interval between litters : 365 days

Weight at birth : 9.05 kg (19.91 lbs)

Source: AnAge, licensed under CC

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