Antelope Species

Antelopes are even-toed ungulates in the family Bovidae. Although the term ‘antelope’ is familiar, there is in fact no clear definition of an antelope and a few species conventionally regarded as antelopes are taxonomically closer to wild cattle.  

Antelopes are herbivores. The males always have a pair of horns (one species has two pairs), females in some species bear horns, others do not. The horns consist of a bony core and an outer sheath of keratin. The horns are permanent structures and are not shed every year (unlike deer antlers).

Size ranges from the tiny Royal Antelope at 2.5-3 kilos to the Eland and Giant Eland, whose males can exceed 1000 kg.  

Antelopes are valued for their horns, skins, and meat: in West and Central Africa, antelopes are a major source of bushmeat, providing millions of local people with their main source of protein. Antelopes also have aesthetic, cultural, and spiritual values.  

ASG currently recognizes 93 antelope species. Its remit also covers five non-antelope species, for practical reasons. New insights, particularly from genetic and genomic research, mean that taxonomy is kept under constant review (see the ASG Taxonomy Policy).


A large number of antelope ‘subspecies’ have been named, mainly on the basis of differences in coat colour or horn shape. Very few subspecies have been verified by genetic data, and the majority are perhaps best regarded as geographical variants. ASG recognises a small number of subspecies and a thorough taxonomic review is currently being planned. 

In all countries of mainland Africa plus some islands such as Zanzibar and Bioko, but not Madagascar.

Antelopes are also found across the Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, the south Caucasus, through Central Asia to China, Mongolia, and South Asia. Three species are endemic to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. The range of the saiga antelope even extends into the Caspian steppes of south-eastern Europe and the pronghorn occurs in western North America from Alberta, Canada, through the USA to northern Mexico.

A wide range of habitat types – hyperarid desert, semidesert, steppe, savannah, montane grassland, swamps and wetlands, light woodland, tropical rainforest. The Tibetan gazelle and Tibetan antelope are endemic to the cold high-altitude Qinghai-Tibet Plateau where they occur up to 5000 metres elevation.

As with other large mammals, most antelopes have suffered substantial declines in both range and population size over the last 150 years and especially the last 75 years. 


Three antelope species have become extinct:  Bluebuck, Saudi Gazelle, and Yemen gazelle (though doubts exist over whether the latter was a valid species).


Some species are now perilously close to extinction, such as Addax (less than 100 remaining in the wild) and Dama Gazelle. At the other end of the scale, a few species still have population sizes over 1 million – Impala, Blue Duiker, Mongolian Gazelle, Saiga.


There are some conservation success stories to report, too: the reintroduction into the wild of Arabian Oryx and Scimitar-horned Oryx, the significant increase in Tibetan Antelope numbers following stringent protection, and the spectacular increase in the Saiga population from around 40,000 in 2005 to more than 1.3 million in 2022.    

Breakdown of Species

Gazelles and close relatives (Antilopini and Aepycerotini)

22 species, distributed across deserts and savannahs of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, and Central Asia. This group includes familiar species such as the Impala and Thomson’s Gazelle in East Africa, and the elegant Blackbuck in India.

Gazella arabica

Formerly widespread in the hills and deserts around the perimeter of the Arabian Peninsula. It is still found in at a few sites in the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, mainly protected areas. It has been reintroduced in a few places.

 (Queen of Sheba’s Gazelle)

Gazella bilkis

The only evidence of this gazelle consists of a few specimens obtained in the hills near Ta’izz, Yemen, in the 1950s. There have been no further reports. Whether this is really a valid species seems doubtful and it may have been a distinctively marked variety of Arabian gazelle.

Gazella cuivieri

Sometimes also known as the Atlas Gazelle. It occurs along the Atlas mountains of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia in Mediterranean forests, scrub, grasslands, and arid hill slopes.

Dorcas Gaazelles, Eritrea (c) ASG

Gazella dorcas

Distributed widely across the whole of the Sahara and northern Sahel, from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, extending southeast through Djibouti to northern Somalia and into Sinai, Israel, and Jordan in the north-east. Dorcas Gazelle is adaptable and resilient and is the only species of antelope in the region that survives in good numbers.

Gazella gazella

Until recently this was considered conspecific with Arabian Gazelle, but the two species have been separated on genetic evidence. Found in Mediterranean hills and scrub of Israel, south-eastern Turkey, and adjoining parts of Syria and Jordan.

Gazella gazella leptoceros

Occurs in the northern part of the Sahara. The eastern population in Egypt and the border area with Libya has been heavily hunted and survives in very small numbers, or may be extinct. In the west, there are two populations, one in the Great Western Erg (sand sea) of Algeria and another the Great Eastern Erg along the Algeria/Tunisia border. Numbers are believed to be very low.

Gazella marica

Distributed in sandy areas of the Arabian Peninsula. Much of its original range has been lost due to overhunting, but it still occurs in several protected areas, and it has been reintroduced to others. Large numbers are managed in government and private collections.

Gazella saudiya

Formerly occurred in gravel and acacia plains of the Arabian Peninsula. Most records came from western Saudi Arabia with a few from Kuwait and Yemen. The species has not been observed in the wild for several decades and exhaustive genetic analyses have shown that no animals are held in captivity. It is now regarded as Extinct.

Gazella spekei

Restricted to Somalia where it lives along the east coast, in Puntland in the north-east, and across Somaliland in the north. It prefers open plains (locally known as bans) and open woodland and avoids dense acacia scrub.

Goitered Gazelle, Shirvan NP, Azerbaijan (c) ASG

Gazella subgutturosa

Very widely distributed, in northern Iraq, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Central Asia, China, and Mongolia. In many countries it is known as the Black-tailed Gazelle. It has recently been reintroduced to Georgia and some former sites in northern Azerbaijan.  The largest population is found in Mongolia.  

Thomson's Gazelle, Serengeti, Tanzania (c) Jenny Zhang-unsplash

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familar species of the Serengeti, Maasai-Mara, and other East African plains. Its current population size is estimaed at around 200,00 and it undertakes mass seasonal migrations





Eudorcas rufifrons

Occupies Sahelian grasslands and open bush from Senegal to Sudan. It generally lives in small and scattered populations and its status is not very well known.

Heuglin's Gazelle, Kafta-Sheraro NP, Ethiopia (c) ASG

Eudorcas tilonura

Occupies a small range on to the east of the Blue Nile in Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. Currently only a few small populations are known, in the Gash-Setit area of Eritrea, Kafta Sheraro N.P. in Ethiopia, and Dinder N.P. in Sudan.

Eudorcas rufina

The ‘Red Gazelle’ has always been an enigmatic species. The only evidence for its existence consists of three male skins and/or skulls purchased in local markets in northern Algeria in the late 1800s. The precise origin of the specimens is unknown. There are no other records, no live animals have been seen, nor has any local name been reported. The three specimens were obtained in markets at the northern end of trans-Saharan trade routes and the most likely explanation is that these skins originated from somewhere on the southern side of the Sahara. At least one specimen examined shows a close resemblance to E. rufifrons. It is no longer regarded as a valid species in the Mammals of Africa and it is not listed on the American Society of Mammalogists’ database. ASG agrees that this is not a valid species and it is no longer assessed for the IUCN Red List. 


Nanger dama

The largest and one of the most handsome gazelles. Dama gazelle has lost more than 98% of its former range in the Sahel and margins of the Sahara and now there are only and estimated 100-150 remaining in three populations, all of which are isolated from each other. The species is at very high risk of extinction in the wild. Three subspecies have been described, based on coat colour, but these are not supported by the latest genetic evidence.

Grant's Gazelle. Lake Abiata-Shala NP, Ethiopia. (c) ASG

Nanger granti

Occurs in East Africa, from central Tanzania north through Kenya, north-east Uganda, and Ethiopia north to the Awash Valley. Three subspecies are usually recognised, but details of the boundaries between them require more detailed clarification. Peter’s Gazelle N. g. petersi of the Kenyan coastal zone is declining.

Nanger soemmerringi

Endemic to the Horn of Africa, formerly distributed from North-east Africa from south-east Sudan, through Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia. It has lost much of its historic range. The largest population is found on the Dahlak Islands of Eritrea. It is also still present in Djibouti, Buri Peninsula (Eritrea), the Awash and Alledeghi national parks (Ethiopia) and Somaliland

Litocranius walleri

Occurs in North-east and East Africa in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, and northern Tanzania. It is closely associated with arid, bush, scrub, and acacia woodland. It has a long neck (it is sometimes known as the giraffe-antelope) and often stands on its hind legs to feed, allowing it to access vegetation out of the reach of other species

Dibatag male. Ogaden, Ethiopia (c) Jens-Ove Heckel

Ammodorcas clarkei

This species is endemic to a small part of the Horn of Africa. It occurs in thick bush and thorn scrub in Somalia and the Ogaden region of south-east Ethiopia. It is very shy and poorly known. The small amount of information from the field indicates that it lives at much lower densities than the gerenuk. Some taxonomists place it in its own tribe, Ammodorcadini.

Impala. Lake Bogoria NP, Kenya (c) ASG

Aepyceros melampus

An elegant antelope, still found in large numbers across eastern and southern Africa. Impala prefer light woodland and bush, clearings, and grassland margins. Black-faced Impala A. melampus petersi has a is a broad black mark on the muzzle and is found only in Namibia, including Etosha N.P.

Blackbuck. Velavadar NP, India. (c) ASG

Antilope cervicapra

Endemic to South Asia. It is widespread in India, extending into a few parts of the terai zone of Nepal, but now extinct in Bangladesh and Pakistan. There are introduced populations in Argentina and the USA. The handsome males bear distinctive spiral horns.

Procapra gutturosa

The stronghold of this species is in the Daurian Steppes of eastern Mongolia and adjoining areas of China and Russia, though its range extends westwards into central and western Mongolia. It is nomadic and living in large herds. The population numbers over 1 million.

Procapra przewalskii

Its former range in western China has now been reduced to a few fragmented populations in the vicinity of Qinghai Lake, at the north-east corner of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Numbers appear to have stabilised thanks to positive conservation action.

Procapra picticaudata

Occurs across the whole Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, up to elevations of 4700 metres.

Hippotragini (oryx, sable and roan).

7 species, one in the Arabian Peninsula, 6 in Africa.

Addax, Souss-Massa NP Morocco (c) ASG

Addax nasomaculatus

A highly desert-adapted species that formerly ranged across the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Nile. It has lost over 99% of this range, numbers are likely now less than 100 and it is on the very edge of extinction in the wild.

Oryx dammah

Once occurred in subdesert and Sahelian steppes on southern and northern sides of the Sahara. It became extinct in the wild before 2000, mainly as a result of uncontrolled hunting. A major effort is under way to reintroduce the species to Chad, led by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with government of Chad and the NGO Sahara Conservation. Currently over 400 free ranging animals are present. Small populations have been releaesed in protected areas in Senegal and Tunisia as part of longer term reintroduction porgrammes. A reassessment of the Red List status was initiated in 2022 to reflect the latest situation. 

Arabian Oryx (c) ASG

Oryx leucoryx

Once found across the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, but became extinct in the wild around 1972, mainly due to uncontrolled hunting and. A major effort took place within and outside the region to breed animals in captivity. The first reintroduction took place in 1982 in Oman. Subsequently they have been reintroduced to Saudi Arabia (Mahazat as-Sayd Reserve, from 1990; Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve from 1995); Israel (three sites, from 1997); United Arab Emirates (Arabian Oryx Reserve, Abu Dhabi, from 2007), and Jordan (Wadi Rum, from 2014). These populations are estimated to number more than 1100. There is a small population on Hawar Island, Bahrain, and large managed or semi-managed populations at several sites in Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. There are several thousand in captivity in private collections in the region and in zoos around the world. In 2011 the Arabian Oryx became the first species extinct in the wild to be reclassified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Beisa Oryx. Awash NP, Ethiopia (c) ASG

Oryx besia

Found in arid plains of eastern Africa from Ethiopia south to northern Tanzania. There are two subspecies O. b. beisa and O. b. callotis, Fringe-eared Oryx. 

Oryx gazella

Found in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and extreme southern Angola. It has been introduced to New Mexico, USA. Numbers in Africa are estimated at more than 300,000 and stable.

Roan Antelope, Senegal (c) ASG

Hippotragus equinus

Found across west, central, east, and southern Africa in scrub and dry woodland. It seems to be more numerous in West and Central Africa than in East and Southern Africa. It is tallest species of antelope.

Hippotragus leucophaeus

This species was endemic to the Cape Region of South Africa, but became extinct around 1799.

Male Sable, Chobe, Botswana (c) James Botes on unsplash

Hippotragus niger

This is a species of savanna woodlands, occurring from the Shimba Hills, Kenya, south to Tanzania and northern Mozambique; Malawi, southern DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and northern South Africa. Giant sable H. niger vardoni is restricted to a small area of Angola and was very close to extinction. It is slowly increasing in numbers, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts. Numbers in Kenya are also very small, but other populations are more numerous. The Sable’s long curving horns are much-sought hunting trophy and the species is raised on many game farms.

Hartebeests, wildebeests, topi (Alcelaphini)

 6 species in sub-Saharan Africa.

Blue Wildebeest, Ngorongoro

Connochaetes taurinus

The four current populations are disjunct: in Kenya-northern Tanzania; southern Tanzania-northern Mozambique; Luangwa Valley, Zambia; and southern Africa (Angola, western Zambia, southern Mozambique, Botswana and northern South Africa). This species is one of the best-known antelopes due to its mass migrations on the Serengeti and Maasai Mara plains. Large scale migration also takes place across Zambia’s Liuwa Plains.

Black Wildebeest, South Africa (c) ASG

Connochaetes gnou

Endemic to the high plains (‘Highveld) of South Africa, but declined almost to the point of extinction by the end of the 19th century. The population recovered, initially due to efforts by game farmers. It prefers open, short-grass plains.

Red Hartebeest. Addo NP, South Africa (c) ASG

Alcelaphus buselaphus

Hartebeests once occurred across almost the whole of Africa. Seven subspecies are recognised, differentiated by coat colour and horn shape, but some hybrid zones exist. The North African subspecies A. b. buselaphus is Extinct. Western Hartebeest A. b. major occurs in the West African savannah zone from Senegal to south-west Chad. Lelwel Hartebesst A. b. lelwel occurs from eastern Chad to Kenya. Tora hartebeest A. b. tora formerly occurred in Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, but it disappeared from most sites in the 1980s and no animals have been seen for at least 20 years and this subspecies is likely to be extinct. Swayne’s hartebeest A. b. swaynei once occurred in large numbers across Somaliland and Ethiopia but underwent a severe decline due to rinderpest and it is now confined to three small sites in Ethiopia. Coke’s Hartebeest, or Kongoni A. b. cokii, is still common in the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem of Kenya and Tanzania. Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest A. b. lichtentseini (southern Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique) and Red Hartebeest A. b. caama (southern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa) have extensive ranges and are stable.

Damaliscus lunatus

This is a large, plains antelope with five subspecies in sub-Saharan Africa. Korrigum D. l. korrigum is now reduced to three very isolated populations, one in Pendjari N.P., Benin, and two in northern Cameroon. Tiang D. l. tiang occurs in Central Africa from Chad to South Sudan, where it still survives in relatively large numbers that make annual migrations in response to the flood cycle of the river Nile. Topi D. l. jimela lives in the East African plains. Coastal topi D. l. topi has a small range along the coastal plain of Kenya, extending into south-east Somalia. Bangwelu tsessebe D. l. superstes is confined to the Bangwelu swamps of Zambia. Tsessebe D. l. lunatus occurs widely in southern Africa, from Angola, Zimbabwe, southern Democratic Republic of Congo to South Africa.

Blesbok, Mountain Zebra NP. (c) ASG

Damaliscus pygargus

Two closely related but distinctive subspecies in southern Africa. Bontebok D. p. pygargus is endemic to a small part of the Cape region in South Africa, though it has been introduced to many sites outside its indigenous range. Bontebok D. p. phillipsi has a more extensive range in South Africa and has been introduced to Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Hirola, Ishaqbini, Kenya (c) ASG

Beatragus hunteri

The Hirola is a survivor of an early evolutionary lineage. It has a small range in south-east Kenya, on the north side of the Tana River and at least formerly, extending into adjoining areas of Somalia. The 2021 aerial census conducted by Kenya Wildlife Service estimated 470 individuals. There is also a small translocated population in Tsavo East N.P.

Reedbucks, kobs, and lechwes (Reduncini)

6 species in sub-Saharan Africa

Redunca redunca

Widely distributed across West, Central, and the northern part of East Africa. It occupies grasslands and floodplains, rarely occurring far from water.

Southern Reedbuck. Okavango, Botswana. (c) ASG

 Redunca arundinum

Occurs across the southern parts of Central and East Africa, south to eastern South Africa. It prefers similar habitats to those of Bohor Reedbuck. 

Mountain Reedbuck, female, South Africa (c) ASG

Redunca fulvorufula

This species is distributed in three very distantly separated populations, each recognised as a subspecies. The largest population, R. f. fulvorufula, occurs in  southern Africa. Chanler’s Mountain Reedbuck R. f. chanleri is scattered several sites in Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Western Mountain Reedbuck R. f. adamuae occupies a small range in the Adamawa highlands along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

Waterbuck. Lake Nakuru NP, Kenya. (c) ASG

Kobus ellipsiprymnus

Widely distributed across Werst, East, and parts of Central Africa, south to Botswana and eastern South Africa. They prefer habitats close to water and occur in grasslands, thickets, and light woodland. Two subspecies are usually recognised. 

Uganda Kob, Muchison Falls NP, Uganda (c) Andrew S on Unsplash

Kobus kob

Kob occur across West and Central Africa, east to the Sudd swamps of South Sudan and south to Uganda and north-east DRC. Western Kob K. k. kob is distributed from Senegal to the Central African Republic. White-eared Kob K. k. leucotis is restricted to the Sudd ecosystem of South Sudan and the Gambella region of Ethiopia, with occasional occurrence in Kidepo Valley, Uganda. Uganda Kob K. k. thomasi has a small range in Uganda and the Garamba region of DRC. White-eared kob still occur in large numbers, despite heavy hunting pressure, and they undertake mass migrations in response to flood cycles of the River Nile. They occur in floodplain grasslands and wetland  margins

Puku (c) Vera Rduch

Kobus vardoni

This species is closely related to kob, and has a relatively small range in Tanzania, Zambia, and northern Botswana. Puku occupy similar habitats to the kob.

Red Lechwe, Okavango (c) ASG

Kobus leche

Lechwe are closely associated with floodplains, wetland habitats and margins of south-central Africa. These habitat preferences result in isolated populations and four subspecies are recognised, in the Okavango region, the Bangwelu swamps and Kafue flats (Zambia), and Upemba wetlands (DRC).

Kobus megaceros

Endemic to the Sudd wetlands along the River Nile in South Sudan and the nearby Machar-Gambella marshes on the border with Ethiopia. It inhabits riverine grasslands and move throughout the year in response to flood cycles.

Grey Rhebok. Mountain Zebra NP, South Africa (c) ASG

Pelea capreolus

Grey Rhebok is endemic to plateau and mountain grasslands of southern Africa.

Spiral-horned antelopes (Tragelaphini)

8 species in sub-Saharan Africa. Large-bodied antelopes.

Greater Kudu, South Africa (c) Matthew Mitchell-unsplash

Tragelaphus strepsiceros

This is a widespread species, occurring from south-east Sudan and Eritrea through East and southern Africa. There is a small, isolated population in eastern Chad-Northern CAR-South Sudan. Its status is favourable in many places, especially in South Africa.

Lesser Kudu male, Dhera NP, Ethiopia (c) ASG

Tragelaphus imberbis

This elegant species is found in dry scrub, thornbush, and Acacia-Commiphora woodland in East and North-east Africa, from central Ethiopia through Somaliland, southern Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Tragelaphus oryx

This is one of the largest antelope species. It is distributed from South Sudan south through East and southern Africa, including on many game farms and ranches outside their historical range. They occur in plains, dry scrub, light woodland, and montane grassland, such as on Mount Kilimanjaro. They form large and small herds. Three subspecies have been described based on variations on coat colour and patterns, but the genetic evidence indicates that only two may be valid.

Western Derby Eland. Bandia Reserve, Senegal. (c) ASG

Tragelaphus derbianus

Once occurred across the West and Central African savanna zone from Senegal on the Atlantic, east to South Sudan. Now, only a small remnant population of the Western subspecies T. d. derbianus is found in Niokolo N.P., Senegal, with semi-captive populations in Bandia and Fathala reserves. The eastern subspecies is found in Cameroon (Bénoué-Faro-Bouba Njida-ecosystem), Central African Republic (Chinko Conservation Area and other sites) and South Sudan.

Mountain Bongo, Mount Kenya (c) ASG

Tragelaphus eurycerus

Two subspecies are recognized. Western Bongo T. e. eurycerus is distributed in lowland rain forest and forest margins in West and Central Africa. Eastern, or Mountain Bongo T. e. isaaci is restricted to montane forests of Kenya and formerly Uganda. Currently, only around 100 animals remain in the wild, in five isolated subpopulations. Reintroduction and reinforcement efforts are under way on Mount Kenya and at other sites. It is a handsome species, kept in many zoos.

Mountain Nyala, Bale Mountains NP, Ethiopia (c) ASG

Tragelaphus buxtoni

Endemic to Ethiopia. Its stronghold is in the Bale Mountains and the nearby Arsi and Chercher mountains. The males’ large, distinctive horns are a sought-after trophy and some of the remaining sites are managed for hunting.   

Bushbuck, male. Niokolo-Koba NP, Senegal._(c) ASG

Tragelaphus scriptus

The bushbuck has a very extensive distribution across West, Central, East, and the eastern parts of southern Africa. The taxonomy of this species complex. Many ‘subspecies’ have been described to date, differentiated by variations in coat colour and/or striping patterns. For example, in Menelik’s Bushbuck of Ethiopia, the males have a black or very dark coat. The genetic evidence is inconclusive, indicating two main lineages, but also considerable hybridisation. This is smallest of the tragelaphine antelopes. It is shy and elusive, occupying many types of forest, woodland, and scrub.

Tragelaphus spekei

A species of wetlands, papyrus swamps, marshy areas in forests, wetland edges and thickets, occurring across West, Central, and Southern Africa, south to the Okavango delta in Botswana. The nature of its preferred habitat means that populations are generally fragmented. Its hooves are splayed to facilitate movement over wet ground. The tiny population in Senegal is believed to be a remnant of a much more widespread former range in West Africa. Its shy nature and difficult-to-access habitats make surveys and census counts problematic.

Nyala, male. Pongola, South Africa. Photo by Asher Pardey-unsplash

Tragelaphus angasii

Occurs in south-eastern Africa from Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and eastern South Africa. They have been introduced to game farms and other sites in South Africa outside their natural range. They occupy thickets, woodland, and riverine forest.

Boselaphines (Boselaphini)

2 species in South Asia

Nilgai male. Velavadar NP, India (c) ASG

Boselaphus tragocamelus

This is a large species, males weighing up to 280 kg. It is widespread in India and also occurs in the terai zone of Nepal. A small number have recolonised Bangladesh in the last few years. Nilgai means ‘blue bull’ in Hindi, in reference to its colour and appearance, thus granting it some protection on religious grounds. It remains widespread and numerous and in some parts of India it has become a crop pest.

Four-horned Antelope, Delhi Zoo (c) ASG

Tetracerus quadricornis

Widespread but patchily distributed in India and a few sites in Nepal. It is shy and unobtrusive, preferring areas of light forest, dry scrub, and tall grass. It is the only antelope species to possess two pairs of horns.

Small antelopes (Neotragini).

12 species, all in sub-Saharan Africa

This a rather varied group, occupying a wide range of habitats, though all species bear short, sharp horns. Three species of dik-dik are currently recognized by IUCN but many forms have been named and a comprehensive genetic analysis is desirable to clarify the taxonomy.

Oribi, Senkelle, Ethiopia (c) ASG

Ourebia oureibi

Widely distributed in grasslands and light woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal east to Ethiopia and south to South Africa. Haggard’s Oribi O. o. haggardi is a completely isolated subspecies

That occurs along the coast of Kenya into southern Somalia.

Beira, young male, Somaliland (c) ASG

Dorcatragus megalotis

Endemic to the Horn of Africa. More than 90% of its range is in northern Somalia, including Somaliland, with the rest in southern Djibouti and a very small area of eastern Ethiopia. It is a dainty- looking but robust species, inhabiting rocky hills and screes.  

Klipspringer, Pilanesberg, South Africa (c) Johanneke Kroesbergen Kamps-unplash

Oroetragus oreotragus

A widespread species with a patchy distribution on cliffs and rocky outcrops (its name means ‘cliff jumper’) on the eastern side of Africa from Eritrea to Lesotho, and also in the south-west from Angola to the Cape. An isolated subspecies is found in Nigeria and the Central African Republic.

Steenbok, Botswana (c) ASG

Raphicerus campestris

Occurs in two separate populations, one in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, and another across southern Africa.

Raphicerus sharpei

Occurs in the southern part of East Africa through Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and northern South Africa. It prefers habitats with dense cover.


Raphicerus melanotis

This species has a restricted range in the southern and eastern Cape regions of South Africa where it dwells in thickets, scrub, and sometimes long grass.  

Suni, Arusha NP, Tanzania (c) Daudi Peterson

Neotragus moschatus

There two populations. One in East Africa in Kenya and Tanzania and the other in Mozambique and the extreme north of South Africa.

Neotragus batesi

This tiny antelope lives in the Congo Basin rainforests (two disjunct populations) with a small, isolated population in the Niger Delta.

Neotragus pygmaeus

This is the smallest antelope species of the Upper Guinea Forest of West Africa, where it occupies a similar niche to that of N. batesi.

Kirk's Dikdik, Masalani, Kenya (c) ASG

Madoqua kirkii

There are two main populations, one in East Africa, from southern Somalia to Tanzania, and another, Damaraland Dik-dik, in Namibia and southern Angola. Within East Africa, three forms with differing coat colour and habitats have been identified. It inhabits thickets, scrub, and woodland.

Madoqua guentheri

This is largest of the dik-diks, found in arid regions of East Africa from Ethiopia, Somaliland, northern Kenya, and South Sudan.

Salt's Dikdik. Somaliland. (c) ASG

Madoqua saltiana

Endemic to the Horn of Africa, from Eritrea south through Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Its coat colour varies considerably, and several subspecies have been named on this basis, but these are not yet supported by any genetic evidence.

Silver Dikdik, Ogaden, Ethiopia (c) Catrin and Sven Hammer

Madoqua piacentinii

This species was once thought to be restricted to the Obbia coast of eastern Somalia, but recently it has also been found in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. It is not yet known whether its distribution is continuous. The small number of field observations to date indicate that it occurs at much lower densities than Salt’s Dik-dik, with which it co-occurs.

Duikers (Cephalophini)

19 species in three genera, all in sub-Saharan Africa

These are mainly small to medium species, though three reach 60-80kg. The taxonomy of the duikers has not been confirmed through any genetic analyses, and it is possible that some of the species described should be combined or regarded as subspecies. Duikers have a rather stocky  build, are relatively short-legged, and the horns are short or very short. They have strong jaws for crushing seeds and hard fruits; some species are known to eat carrion and even live prey, including frogs. Duikers are solitary or live in pairs. Most species are found in the West and Central African rainforests, with a few others in drier woodlands and montane forest. Several species co-occur in many places, separated ecologically by some combination of size, diurnal or nocturnal habits, food preferences, or habitat niche. They are a very important component of bushmeat and thus for food and local livelihoods. As with the antelopes as a whole, some species remain numerous and widespread, while many are declining and a few are very rare.

Abbott's Duiker, Mt Kilimanjaro (c) Charles Foley

Cephalophus spadix

A large species of highland forests in the Eastern Arc mountains of Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro. Populations are small and fragmented.

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Cephalophus adersi

Occupies a small, fragmented  range on Zanzibar, the Arabuko-Sokoke forest in coastal Kenya, and Boni and Dodori forests close to the border with Somalia. It may also occur in southern Somalia. It is easily identified by a broad white band across the hindquarters.

Bay Duiker, Liberia (c) ASG

Cephalophus dorsalis

A nocturnal species with separate populations in the West and Central African rainforests.

Cephalophus niger

Distributed in the West African rainforests from Sierra Leone to western Nigeria. It is adaptable and occupies rainforest, farmbush, forest edges and secondary forest.

Cephalophus nigrifrons

Occurs in marshy and damp parts of rainforests of the Congo Basin and East Africa and montane forests in East Africa.

Harvey's red duiker, camera trap, Ufiome Forest Reserve_Tanzania (c) TMAP

Cephalophus harveyi

Occurs in forests and dense thickets in East Africa. Closely related to natal Red Duiker and may be conspecific.

Cephalophus jentinki

One of the largest duikers. It is a rare species of the Upper Guinea Forest in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, and south-east Guinea. Key sites for the species are Sapo N.P. in Liberia and Tai N.P. in Cote d’Ivoire. It also occurs ion the Peninsula Forest Park on the edge of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Cephalophus natalensis

Distributed along the coast from southern Tanzania to eastern South Africa.

Cephalophus ogilbyi

There are three subspecies with disjunct ranges. Brooke’s Duiker C. o. brookei is an uncommon inhabitant of the Upper Guinea Forest of West Africa. It may in fact be a separate species. C. o. ogilbyi occurs along the southern part of the Nigeria-Cameroon border, and White-legged Duiker C. o. crusalbum  in western Gabon.

Peter's Duiker, Dja,Cameroon (c) MMU

Cephalophus petersi

Inhabits the Central African rainforest on the right (north) bank of the Congo River.

Cephalophus rufilatus

This a species of savanna woodland, thick bush, and riverine forests. It occurs across West and Central Africa from Senegal to South Sudan.

Cephalophus weynsi

Sometimes regarded as a subspecies of Peters’ Duiker. Distributed in Central Africa on the left bank of the Congo River, extending east into South Sudan and parts of East Africa.

Cephalophus leucogaster

Occurs in two disjunct populations: one in the west from southern Cameroon, south of the Sanaga River, through Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, and south-western Central African Republic, and the other to the east in in north-east Democratic Republic of Congo, in the Ituri Forest and north Kivu. There are no confirmed records between these two areas, in the central cuvette of DRC or south of the Congo river. It appears to live at lower densities than other species of duiker in the same  habitat.

Cephalophus silvicultor

This species has a wide range in West and Central Africa south to northern Angola and Zambia. It is largest of the duikers and has a distinctive triangular yellow patch on its back.

Cephalophus zebra

This very distinctively marked species is found in the rainforests of West Africa, including montane forests. 

Philantomba monticola

Occurs in the forests of Central Africa, east of the Niger River, into parts of eastern and southern Africa. It is a common and numerous species, apparently resilient to high levels of harvest.

Philantomba maxwelli

Fills the same role and habitat niche as Blue Duiker in the forests of West Africa.

Philantomba walteri

The species was first described in 2011. It is found in the Dahomey Gap of West Africa in more open habitats than the other two species in the genus. So far there are only a few records and very little is known about the species.

Sylvicapra grimmia

This species has the widest distribution of all the duikers. It avoids rainforests and open grassland, occupying a wide range of habitats that have enough cover, from arid bush to montane grasslands.

Other species

Pantholops hodgsonii

Endemic to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau where it occurs up to 4xxxm. Almost the entire population (99%) is found in China with a small number making seasonal movements into north-eastern Ladakh, India. Horns found in xx of extreme NW Nepal. The underfur, known as shahtoosh, is extraordinarily fine and was traditionally woven into luxury shawls and scarves. Uncontrolled hunting for this high-value product resulted in a serious decline in the 1980s-1990s. Strict protection measures and creation of very large nature reserves by the government of China, international trade controls, and legal bans on import and weaving shahtoosh in India, have resulted in population recovery. It is now estimated to number over 200,000, and has been recategorized in a lower category of risk on the Chinese National Red List and IUCN Red List.

Pronghorn, Utah. photo by Mark Koch-unsplash

Antilocapra americana

This is the only member of the family Antilocapridae. It has many external similarities to the antelopes and occupies a similar ecological niche to the Plains species of Africa. Its horns are branched and have a forward pointing ‘prong’. It is distributed in western north America, from Alberta, Canada, south to northern Mexico. It numbers up to one million. Two forms, Sonoran Pronghorn A. a. sonorensis (Arizona and northern Mexico) and Peninsular Pronghorn A. a. peninsularis (Baja California) are both highly threatened.

African Buffalo, Okavango (c) ASG

Syncerus caffer

Found across sub-Saharan Africa in savanna and forest ecosystems. Several subspecies have been described and the taxonomy of the species is currently being re-evaluated. The largest Cape Buffalo can weigh up to 850 kg or more, but forest animals are around half that size.

Hyemoschus aquaticus

This small member of the family Tragulidae is found in the rainforests of West and Central Africa. It has a distinctive pattern of white spots and stripes which help to distinguish it from the duiker species which occupy the same habitat. Females are larger than males. It is nocturnal and rarely seen far from water.

Camelus ferus

Now reduced to very small populations in the Gobi Desert of south-west Mongolia and north-west China.