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10 Fun Facts About Antelopes

Updated on May 17, 2013

Antelope by the River


Everyone’s seen nature shows about antelopes. Any time there is an African documentary on TV, there are bound to be numerous antelopes running around the savannah. However, these shows rarely focus on these graceful, beautiful animals - usually in favor of the more well-known lions or hyenas.

Let’s take a journey and learn a little more about this unique species.

Antelopes have no classification

  • They fall under the general category of Bovidae and it is used to mean all members of the family who are not sheep, cattle or goats.

They are Native to only Two Continents

  • There are no species of antelope that are native to the Americas, Australia or Antarctica. They mainly reside in Africa and some in Asia.

There are 91 Species of Antelope

  • With 91 species of antelope, there are many different colors and patterns, from the (white) Arabian oryx who sports black stripes on its face and brown on its underbelly/legs to the small Four-horned antelope that is easily mistaken for a deer.

Antelope Inhabit a Wide-Range of Climate

  • The beautiful antelope manages to live in a wide variety of habitats. More live in the savannahs of Africa than anywhere else. But others have managed to acclimate in diverse locations such as the saiga who live in the extreme cold of Mongolia, Poland and China or the semi aquatic sitatunga who hang out in the swamps of Central Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, etc).

The weight range of the Antelope is Incredible

  • For instance, a common eland can top the scales at an impressive 2,100 lbs. While, in comparison, the smallest gazelle - the royal antelope - weighs less than most newborn humans coming in at a feather-light 3.3 lbs.

Antelope Have Very Powerful Legs

  • Gazelles are known for their speed and quickness, but they also possess other amazing traits - such as being able to jump 7’9”+. To put that in perspective, the tallest NBA player ever is Gheorghe Muresan & Manute Bol (both 7’7”). An antelope could clear them. Some antelope can even stand on their hind legs and eat leaves from trees!

Antelope Have Highly-Tuned Senses

  • As with many herbivores, antelopes have developed a keen sense of hearing and smell. Mainly as a defense against predators. However, they also use markings on their bodies as a form of communication. For instance, they will “flash” them as a warning or in dominance disputes. They also have a series of vocal communication tools, such as trumpeting, moos, loud barks and whistles.

Female Antelope Can Be Larger Than Males

  • In some antelope species, the female is larger than the male. Many females throughout the antelope family sport horns - sometimes even larger than the males!

Some Antelope are Monogamous, Others aren't

  • The smaller antelopes, such as the dik-diks, lean toward monogamy. While the larger, more common antelope such as the wildebeest or impala create huge herds with many females and a single male (guys, stop drooling). The other males are forced out through combat.

The Antelope is an Endangered Species

  • As with many other wild animals around the globe, the antelope - being prized for its magical and medicinal cures and powers, fine pelt and horns - have caused the numbers of these magnificent animals to decline.
  • For instance, the male saiga antelope is hunted for its horns, causing a wide, unsustainable imbalance in the ecosystem. There are so few males left, that in some herds there can be 800 or so females to 1 male.

So, there you have an inside look at one of the more common, but rarely discussed animals of the African Savannah.


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