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Golden Gate Highlands National Park
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Here is a brief account of the antelope species of Golden Gate Highlands National Park. See our full mammal list.
1. Black Wildebeest / Swartwildebees
The black wildebeest is much smaller than the blue wildebeest and is now only found in National Parks, reserves and some farms. Both the male and the female carry horns. They have a light coloured neck mane and long horse-like tail.
They advertise their presence with a very loud two syllable call which has been described as ‘ge-nu’. They feed on grasses and succulents. They are stocky yet swift. Lifespan: 20 years. Mass: 113-159kg. Shoulder height: 1.14m.
Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi
These territorial grazers have the characteristic habit of standing in groups with their heads towards the sun and their heads down. Both sexes have horns. Found mainly in the Highveld, they can withstand extreme cold. If disturbed, they run upwind in single file.
Blesbok can most frequently be seen on the plains surrounding Basotho Cultural Village. Bontebok, a more colourful relative, is not found in the park. Mass: 59-80kg. Shoulder height: 93cm. Lifespan: 10-12 years.
3. Common Duiker
Although mainly nocturnal, the duiker can often be seen in daylight. It is found singularly or in pairs, and is very shy. The name ‘duiker’ comes from the Afrikaans word meaning ’diver’. This is because the duiker looks like it is diving as it flees. It is mainly a browser, and can feed on fruits, leaves, grass and roots. It can be found anywhere in the park, and is common across Southern Africa. Mass: 12-16kg. Shoulder height: 60cm.
This gregarious animal is the largest of the African antelope. Even though they appear slow, they are excellent jumpers. They are also great wanderers, and move between the hills and valleys in the park. Both sexes have horns, although those of the females are often longer.
Although normally not vocal, they produce a clicking noise with their hooves which can be heard some distance away. They are mainly browsers and are fond of young grass in areas that have been burnt. Eland have an excellent sense of smell and good hearing. Lifespan: 15 years. Mass: up to 900kg. Shoulder height: 150-175 cm.
5. Grey Rhebok / Vaalribbok
This antelope lives on the flat-topped grassy mountains in the park. They can commonly be seen on the mountains from the Rhebok Trail. They live in small family parties up to about 12 individuals. Only the males have horns. When they are alarmed, they move off with a ‘rocking-horse’ movement, displaying a distinctive white tail as a marker to those that follow it.
Grey rhebok are active throughout the day (diurnal) and live throughout the Cape, Lesotho, KwaZulu-Natal, eastern Free State, Swaziland and southeastern Mpumulanga. The voice has been described as a sharp cough. They have good sight, hearing and sense of smell. Mass: 18-23kg. Shoulder height: 70-76 cm.
6. Mountain Reedbuck / Rooiribbok
Mountain reedbuck occur mainly in small herds of between 3 and 6 animals. Only the males carry horns. It lives, as the name suggests, in mountainous areas, using rocks as cover. They mainly eat grass, although will also feed on broad leaves and twigs. Mass: 22-27kg. Shoulder height: 63-76cm.
7. Oribi / Oorbietjie
Normally found in pairs or solitarily. Only the males have horns. The oribi is a swift, inquisitive antelope that lies in tall grass. They are most often seen around the ‘Oribi Loop’ in the park. They are smaller and redder than the rhebok. They have a short, black bushy tail which is visible when they flee. They are grazers, preferring short grass. Mass: 14-20kg. Shoulder height: 51-66cm.
8. Red Haartebeest / Rooihartbees
This social animal is found in large herds. They are grazers, preferring medium-high grass. Although they are capable of going without water for long periods, they will drink regularly in the park where water is available. Both sexes carry horns.
The illustration shows the ‘pronking’ posture adopted when alarmed. They can most commonly be seen on the way to Cathedral Cave. Mass: 150-160kg. Shoulder height: 120-137cm.
These animals live in large herds in the park and are most frequently found on the plains near Basotho Cultural Village. They are both browsers and grazers, and both sexes have the characteristic heavy ridged, lyre-shaped horns. When suddenly alarmed, springbok perform gigantic leaps which can carry them 2m off the ground. They have excellent eyesight. Mass: 36-50kg. Shoulder height: 78-84cm.s
Found throughout southern Africa, this large-eared antelope is the smallest that we have here in this National Park. It is a swift animal that zigzags as it runs, often stopping a short way off to look back. Normally found singly except in the breeding season when it is found in pairs. It is active by both day and night (diurnal and nocturnal). Mass: 12-14kg. Shoulder height: 50-56cm.
For more information about these antelope and other animals in the park, the following book is recommended:
- Walker, C. 1996. Signs of the Wild. Struik.
Acknowledgment to the author for reference to his knowledge and pictures on this page.
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