Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi)
Their names is derived from the Afrikaans word “bles” meaning the white “blaze” markings on the face.
They are medium size antelope with a shoulder height of about 90cm.
Both male and female have horns which are heavily ringed and curve first backwards then outwards.
Originally they were endemic to the eastern and northern parts of South Africa but are now found on most game farms throughout the region.
They are seen in grassland habitats where they feed mostly in the early hours of the day and late afternoons preferring to lay in the shade during the hottest hours. They are more active in cooler weather and during thunderstorms, take shelter under trees or bushes with their backs to the direction of the rain and their heads held low.
During the rut, very large bachelor groups are formed consisting of mainly young males or older ones not able to compete for territories. The rutting season takes place just after the rainy season, usually March/April.
A male will on average have about 10 females in his harem but can be as many as 25 and they will actively defend them against other males. These fights can be vicious and cause serious bodily harm or end in killing the opponent.
Territories are held by males and marked by leaving a secretion from the preorbital gland on vegetation. Females and the young perform the same ritual but not for the same reasons.
Males also use feet stamping, defecating, vigorous head shaking and snorting as territorial displays.
Blesbok favour newly sprouted grass after veld burning and large, mixed herds can be found feeding together.
Although they are mainly grazers they will browse on bushes occasionally but they are dependent on a nearby water supply.
During the rutting season, males use a courtship display with their heads held forward, the horns laying back and their tail over their backs while advancing on the females with stiff legs and move in a semi-circle around them.
Females will give birth during the November/December period to co-inside with the rains after a gestation period of about 240 days giving birth to a single young.
The females leave the herd to give birth but do not eat the afterbirth as many antelope species do.
Babies are about 6-7 kilograms at birth and can stand to start suckling within about 20 minutes. They are capable of running at the same time.
Calves suckle for about 4 months but remain with the female for about 6 months before venturing about on their own. Female calves remain up to two years with their mothers.