Scientific Name: Damaliscus pygargus
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The bontebok is an antelope found in South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia. The bontebok has two subspecies; the bontebok, occurring naturally in the Fynbos and Renosterveld areas of the Western Cape, and the blesbok occurring in the highveld. The bontebok is related to the common tsessebe. Bontesbok and blesbok share an adult color pattern where the relatively dark dorsal pelage contrasts sharply with high, white stockings and buttocks. Bontebok have a dark and glossy, purplish-brown dorsal pelage, while blesbok dorsal pelage is a dull, reddish-brown. Blesbok also have dark fur on their rumps, while bontebok have a white patch surrounding the tail. Calves are born with lighter brown pelage and dark faces and are identical to the young of topi (Damaliscus lunatus). Both sexes of both subspecies develop large and curving, gazelle-like horns Their short tail is tufted with black fur. A characteristic of the Blesbok is the prominent white blaze on the face and a horizontal brown strip which divides this blaze above the eyes. Body colour is brown with a lighter coloured saddle on the back, and the rump an even lighter shade. The legs are brown with a white patch behind the top part of the front legs. Lower legs whitish. Both sexes carry horns, ringed almost to the tip. Female horns are slightly more slender.
Bontebok and blesbok are found in South African grasslands. When first encountered by Europeans at the end of the 17th century all reports indicated that they were restricted to grasslands and were not seen until the karroid areas of the central parts of the Cape Province had been traversed. Their former distribution indicates that they were confined to the Highveld plateau grasslands where water was available.
Damaliscus pygargus occurs in southern Africa. There are two physically distinct and well-recognized subspecies: bontebok (D. p. pygargus) are found in the highveld and coastal plains of South Africa, blesbok (D. p. phillipsi) are found in eastern and central Free State.
The bontebok is a tall, medium-sized antelope. They typically stand 80 to 100 cm (31 to 39 in) high at the shoulder and measure 120 to 210 cm (47 to 83 in) along the head and body. The tail can range from 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in). Body mass can vary from 50 to 155 kg (110 to 342 lb). Males are slightly larger and noticeably heavier than females.