The antelope are a group of herbivorous African animals of the family Bovidae, distinguished by a pair of hollow horns on their heads. These animals are spread relatively evenly throughout the various subfamilies of Bovidae and many are more closely related to cows or goats than each other. There are many different species of antelope, ranging in size from the tiny Royal Antelope to the Giant Eland. They typically have a light and elegant figure, slender, graceful limbs, small cloven hoofs, and a short tail. Antelope have powerful hindquarters and when startled they run with a peculiar bounding stride that makes them look as though they are bouncing over the terrain like a giant rabbit. Some species of antelope can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour), making them among the fastest of land animals.
Black Buck Antelope have been imported into the United States, primarily for the purpose of "exotic game hunts", common in Texas. There are no true antelope native to the Americas. The Pronghorn Antelope of the Great Plains belongs to family Antilocapridae. The Mongolian Gazelle (Procapra gutturosa), sometimes classified as an antelope, can run with a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). Suni are small antelope that live in south-eastern Africa. They stand between 12-17 inches high at the shoulder. They are very similar to the dik-dik in size, shape, and color but have many smaller differences.
Believe it or not, there is no such thing as a Sahara Antelope. This is a common misconception.
A wide variety of Antelope hybrids have been recorded in zoos. This is due to a lack of more appropriate mates in enclosures shared with other species or with misidentification of species. The ease of hybridization shows how closely related some antelope species are. It is probably that some so-called species are actually variant populations of the same species and are prevented from hybridization in the wild by behavioural or geographical differences.
A mating between a male Eland and a female Kudu produced a sterile male hybrid that resembled the Eland.
Blue Wildebeest produce fertile hybrids with the smaller Black Wildebeest. This led to an entire herd of 180 "genetically contaminated" Black Wildebeest being destroyed in a wildlife conservation park (species purity is a human concept, nature is far more flexible).
In the early 1900s the London Zoological Society hybridized several antelope species including: the water-bucks Kobus ellipsiprymnus and Kobus unctuosus, and the Selouss antelope Limnotragus seloussi with Limnotragus gratus.
Listed antelope hybrids include:
Blue Duiker/Maxwell's Duiker
Bay Duiker/Red-flanked Duiker
Bay Duiker/ Zebra Duiker
Black Duiker/Kaffir Duiker
Black Wildebeest/Blue Wildebeest
Common Waterbuck/Defassa Waterbuck
Defassa Waterbuck/Nile Lechwe
Kafue Lechwe/Ellipsen Waterbuck
Red-fronted Gazelle/Thomson's Gazelle
Beisa Oryx/Fringe-eared Oryx
Grant's Gazelle/Thomson's Gazelle
Arabian Oryx/Scimitar-horned Oryx
Thomson's Gazelle/Roosevelt's Gazelle
Slender-horned Gazelle/Persian Goitered Gazelle
Cuvier's Gazelle/Slender-horned Gazelle
The antelope's horn is prized for medicinal and magical powers in many places. In the Congo, it is thought to confine spirits. Christian iconography sometimes uses the antelope's two horns as a symbol of the two spiritual weapons that Christians possess: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Their ability to run swiftly has also led to their association with the wind, such as in the Rig Veda, as the steeds of the Maruts and the wind god Vaya.
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