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Habitat of Antelopes

Mrunal Belvalkar
Antelope is a beautiful deer-like creature found in various parts of the world. Apart from being territorial and exceptionally protective of the females, they do have a unique way of doing things.
The genesis of the word antelope is interesting. 'Anthólops', the Byzantine Greek word for antelope, was perhaps coined from the two Greek words 'anthos' (meaning flower) and 'ops' (meaning eyes). The word anthólops perhaps means an animal with beautiful eyes and/or long eyelashes.
Indeed the eyes of an antelope look beautiful, like they were carved out by the most skilled artist in the world. But did you know that the word 'antelope' does not refer to a single species but a group of different animals?
Also, the group 'antelope' is not a scientific taxon. 'Antelope' in fact refers to all animals that do not fit in the group of buffaloes, sheep, cattle, goats or bison. The term 'antelope' is hence a wastebasket taxon. However, you will agree with me when I say this wastebasket is exceptionally beautiful-looking!

Antelope Habitat

Antelopes are herbivores. They feed on fresh green grass, buds of flowers, fruits, twigs and stems. They also need a steady supply of water around their habitat.
This is why most antelopes are found in the grasslands of most continents / subcontinents. They are also found in forests (dry deciduous forests). However many antelopes are found in unusual habitats as well - there are many antelope species that have adapted to cold climatic conditions, desert regions and even rocky terrains.
Being a collection of those animals that taxonomy has been unable to classify according to phylogeny, antelopes include animals belonging to many genera. For the same reason, antelopes are found scattered all over the map, in different parts of the world and living in different conditions. Here is an account of some of the most common antelopes and their habitats.

Blue Wildebeest

Scientific Name: Connochaetes taurinus
Native Habitat: Southern and East Africa
Biome: Savanna and grasslands
Also known as the common wildebeest, these antelopes are found mainly in southern and east Africa. The largest population of these antelopes is found in the Serengeti ecosystem. The habitat of blue wildebeest should neither be too wet, nor too dry. In the presence of ample supply of water, they may survive in arid climatic regions as well.


Scientific Name: Antelope cervicapra
Native Habitat: Indian subcontinent
Biome: Dry deciduous forest
The blackbuck is native to the Indian subcontinent, and is found in states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Karnataka, etc. However, it has now been introduced into Texas and Argentina as well. It is the only surviving species of its genus and has been tagged with the status, 'Near Threatened' by IUCN since 2003.


Scientific Name: Oryx gazella
Native Habitat: Southern Africa
Biome: Savanna
This antelope is native to southern Africa. In South Africa, the Oryx gazella is found mostly in the dry and arid regions. This is why it is seen abundantly in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. Population of this antelope is more than three hundred thousand in South Africa alone. Wild population of this antelope is seen in Texas as well.


Scientific Name: Boselaphus tragocamelus
Native Habitat: Indian subcontinent
Biome: Grasslands and woodlands
This antelope is native to India, Pakistan and Nepal, Nilgai is the biggest Asian antelope. Wild population of this antelope is seen in Texas. This antelope was introduced in Texas somewhere around the 1920s for recreational purposes. However, a few of these antelopes managed to escape from captivity and now exist as a wild species.


Scientific Name: Aepyceros melampus
Native Habitat: African subcontinent
Biome: Savanna and bushveld
Found abundantly in countries like Zimbabwe, Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania, Mozambique, etc. the impala refers to a medium-sized African antelope. The impala is an ecotone species, that lives between forests and grasslands. An ecotone is an ecological niche characterized by the transition between two biomes.
As you may have realized, being a diverse group of around 30 different genera and more than 80 species, antelopes are scattered all over the world. However, the biggest collection of antelopes is undoubtedly found in Africa. It is indeed a beautiful creature, held as a sign of beauty, elegance and charm.