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Kenya wildlife safaris: Antelopes

Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species found in the family Bovidae. living in a group called a herd. Antelope are even-toed ruminant mammals,with almost a hundred species of antelope, which vary widely in appearance, strategy, habitat, and range. Most species of antelope are native to Africa,but Many species of antelope have been imported to other parts of the world, for exotic game hunting. Antelope exist in a wide range of habitats. Numerically, most exist in the African savannahs. However, there are many species of more secluded forest antelope, as well as the extreme-cold living,desert adapted, the rocky living and semi-aquatic .

Watching forest antelopes
Nature walk

All bovids have even-toed hooves and bony horns. Antelopes have a wide variety of coverings, through most have a dense coat of short fur. In most species, the coat (pelage) is some variation of a brown colour (or several shades of brown).

Like many other herbivores, antelopes rely on keen senses to avoid predators,with eyes placed on the sides of their heads, giving them a broad radius of vision with minimal binocular vision. In most species, both sexes have horns, but those of males tend to be larger. Size and shape of horns varies immensely.

Horns are efficient weapons and tend to be better developed in those species where males fight over females (large herd antelope) than in solitary or lekking species. Antelope are often classified by their reproductive behavior. Small antelope, tend to be monogamous, others pursue a lek breeding system,while others form large herds.

Antelope pursue a number of defense strategies, large herds, such as wildebeest or cape buffalo rely on numbers and running speed for protection. In some species as seen on Kenya wildlife safaris, adults will circle around the offspring, protecting them from predators when threatened.

Many forest antelope rely on cryptic coloring and good hearing to avoid predators. Forest antelope often have very large ears and a dark or striped coloration. Small antelope, especially duikers, evade predation by jumping into dense bush where the predator cannot pursue. Springboks use a behavior known as stotting to confuse predators.