SA Wildlife: The Hartebeest (Alcelaphus Buselaphus)

A large, fawn coloured antelope that at first glance seems strangely misshapen and less elegant than other antelopes.

The Hartebeest is clumsy in appearance, it is hump shouldered with a sloping back, slim legs and a long, narrow face. The Hartebeest is one of the fastest antelopes and most enduring runners. These qualities give it the name “hartebeest” (which means tough ox).



48 inches at the shoulder.


Weight from 165 to 350 pounds.


Open plains. Hartebeest are mainly found in medium and tall grasslands, including savannas. They are more tolerant of high grass and woods than other alcelaphines (archetypical plains antelopes).

Diet – Herbivores

Herbivorous grazers; the hartebeest feeds almost entirely on grass, but is not very selective and quite tolerant of poor-quality food. It has suffered from the expansion of cattle raising, as hartebeests and cattle compete for the same food.


The hartebeest is one of the most sedentary antelopes (making it easy to hunt), but it does move around more when larger groupings form during the dry seasons or in periods of drought, to seek water and better grazing.

At other times the females form small groups of five to 12 animals that wander around their home range. Most mature males become solitary and spread out in adjoining territories.

Hartebeests go to water regularly, but in some circumstances territorial males appear to go without drinking for rather long periods. The home ranges are usually densely populated. When a territorial male returns from watering, he may find another in his place.


Single young born any time of the year.


Gestation is 8 months.

Life Expectancy

18 years in the wild, up to 20 years in captivity.


  • Chetaahs
  • Jackals
  • Lions
  • Hyenas
  • Leopards
  • Humans

Written by How South Africa

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