Antelopes are hoofed animals with hollow horns. They live on grasslands, brush lands, and forests in Africa and parts of Asia (no true antelope is native to the Americas).
Some antelopes include the gazelle, eland, impala, springbok, klipspringer, oryx, saiga, waterbuck, suni, hartebeests, topi, nyala, bongo, dik-dik, kob, duiker, gemsbok, etc. They are hunted by lions, leopards, wild dogs, and other predators.
Many species of antelope have been imported to other parts of the world, especially the United States, for exotic game hunting. Due to the spectacular leaping and evasive skills of some species, escaped individuals are not unheard of.
These swift runners can also jump very well. In addition, they can bounce with all four legs held in a stiff position; this is called pronking. In this springing motion, all four feet leave the ground and land at the same time.
The antelope’s hollow horns vary from very short to very long. Some are straight and some are gently curved. Like all horns, they are not shed, but continue to grow throughout the antelope’s life. In many species of antelope the females also have horns, but they are smaller than the male’s horns.
There are many types of antelopes, differing in size, color, shape, etc. These graceful mammals range in size from the rabbit-sized royal antelope to the huge, ox-sized eland.
Antelopes have large eyes and ears; they use their keen sense of sight, hearing and smell to detect predators (like hyenas and jackals).
Antelopes are herbivores (plant-eaters) and ruminants with a four-part stomach. They swallow food whole, not chewing it initially. Later, they regurgitate a cud (a mouthful of partly-digested food) and chew it thoroughly.
They eat desert shrubs, acacias, young shoots, and grasses. Antelopes spend most of their time grazing on grass or browsing (eating leaves and twigs).
These swift animals migrate a lot to look for food. Migrations enable these grass-eating antelopes to follow the rains and find food. The gnus and gazelles of East Africa perform some of the most impressive mass migratory circuits among all mammals.
Classification: Class Mammalian, Order Artiodactyla, Family Bovidae (antelopes, bison, buffalo, cattle, goats, and sheep).