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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Bovidae (antelopes and buffalo)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals) > Placentalia (placental mammals) > Laurasiatheria > Ferungulata > Cetartiodactyla (even-toed ungulates and cetaceans) > Ruminantia (ruminants)

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Subfamily: Bovinae


Syncerus caffer (African Buffalo)

Buffalo are massive, heavily built ungulates that resemble cattle. They are social and can form herds consisting of several thousand animals. A dominance hierarchy exists amongst adult bulls in the mixed herd. Cows also have a pecking order within the heard.  One of the “Big Five” in Africa, buffalo are a highly popular tourist attraction in national parks, this makes them highly prized as an important source of income.


Tragelaphus strepsiceros (Greater kudu)


Tragelaphus angasii (Nyala)


Tragelaphus scriptus (Bushbuck)


Tragelaphus spekii (Sitatunga)


Tragelaphus oryx (Eland)

Subfamily: Antilopinae


Connochaetes gnou (Black wildebeest)

Black wildebeest are endemic to southern Africa and inhabit the open grassland and scrub woodland habitats, where they graze on grass mainly. They have a characteristic nasal call “ge-nu”, from which the common name gnu is derived. They are dark-coloured with a distinctive white horse-like tail. Bulls defend territories while cows and their young range freely through these territories. There are also bachelor herds.


Connochaetes taurinus (Blue wildebeest)

Found in the savanna regions of southern Africa, also with a large population in East Africa. Predominantly a grazer of short green grass. They form large herds, especially when on migration to better grazing grounds. In the breeding season the males try (not always successfully) to hold a territory round their cows, with cows and young in a territory numbering from 2 to 150.


Alcelaphus lichtensteinii (Lichtenstein's hartebeest)


Alcelaphus buselaphus (Red hartebeest)


Damaliscus pagargys pygargus (Bontebok)

This subspecies of Damaliscus pygargus is endemic to the fynbos with its original distribution lying on the fynbos plains from the Agulhas plain  through to about Mossel Bay. It was once near extinction but is well-protected now. Social structure consists of territorial males, female herds and bachelor herds. They graze mainly on short grass but also occasionally browse.


Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi (Blesbok)

Blesbok is endemic to the Grassland Biome of southern Africa where it is a grazer, mainly on shorter grass. Social structure consists of territorial males, female herds and bachelor herds but in winter they form into large mixed herds.


Damaliscus lumatus (Tsessebe)


Hippotragus equinus (Roan)


Hippotragus niger (Sable)


Oryx gazella (Gemsbok)


Philantomba monticola (Blue duiker)


Cephalophus natalensis (Red duiker)


Sylvicapra grimmia (Common duiker)


Redunca arundinum (Southern reedbuck, Reedbuck)


Redunca fulvorufula (Mountain reedbuck)


Kobus elpsiprymnus (Waterbuck)


Kobus leche (Lechwe)


Kobus vardonii (Puku)


Pelea capreolus (Grey rhebok)


Antidorcus marsupialis (Springbok)


Madoqua damarensis (Damara dik-dik)


Ourebia ourebi (Oribi)


Raphicerus campestris (Steenbok)


Raphicerus melanotis (Cape grysbok)


Raphicerus sharpei (Sharpe's grysbok)


Aepyceros melampus (Impala)


Aepyceros melampus petersi (Black-faced impala)


Oreotragus oerotragus (Klipspringer)


Neotragus moshatus (Suni)

Species naturalised in southern Africa


Hemitragus jemlahicus (Himalayan tahr)

Originates from the Himalayas and became established on Table Mountain in 1935 from a pair that escaped from the Groote Schuur Zoo. Considered an invasive alien species in that it destroys fynbos vegetation and possibly excludes the indigenous Klipspringer. An attempt in 2004 to eradicate the population from Table Mountain has not been entirely successful as there have been some recent sighting of tahrs.