I have driven along the Highlands road so many times over the past two years that I can guess with a degree of accuracy where we might spot what wildlife – although there are always surprises in store. One of these surprises was our first sighting of a small group of about five Grey Rhebuck (Pelea capreolus) that had been resting in the tall grass and jumped up to run away as we approached them along the road. As they tend to be territorial animals, I have seen (presumably) that group a few more times in more or less the same place. Grey Rhebok are usually seen in rocky hills, on grassy mountain slopes, as well as on plateau grasslands, so this – and the places described below – is a recognised habitat for them. These ones were sighted in the Mountain Zebra National Park.

A chance sighting of a small group of these animals on the lower slopes of a hill alerted us to another place where we have been able to observe them from time to time. Then, late one afternoon, a large empty grassy valley, which we had always thought to be devoid of any wild animals, yielded a much larger herd – again we have spotted them there more than once. Lastly, we have discovered a small family group that is frequently visible on some rocky slopes as the road dips down towards some farmland. The photographs in this post are all from that group – by far the closest I can get to them by road. The colouring isn’t all that good for these photographs were taken through a fence shortly before sunset.

Their cryptic colouring of a grey woolly coat with white underparts makes the Grey Rhebuck difficult to see even when the sun is shining brightly. Only the rams have upright, straight, spike-like horns.

Grey Rhebuck are able to derive sufficient moisture from the plants they graze and browse, so they do not need a stable source of water to survive. I have not seen any farm dams, for example, within their immediate vicinity. This final photograph was also taken in the Mountain Zebra National Park.




Grey Rhebuck (Pelea capreolus), endemic to South Africa, are well-camouflaged antelope unless one sees them right out in the open. They are covered with thick, woolly hair that is grey-brown in colour; their bellies are white, as is the underneath of their tails. Although they are predominantly browsers they also eat shrubs, roots and seeds.

The photograph below that was taken from a distance and in poor light shows a pure white Grey Rhebuck next to a normal one. Despite the poor quality, see how it stands out like a sore thumb – there is absolutely no advantage for the white one, other than to be a target for a meal.

Why interfere with nature to breed creatures such as this?

Impala (Aepyceros melampus) are common Bushveld antelope, although they have been introduced to game farms elsewhere in the country. They are brownish with lighter coloured hair on their flanks. Impala are mixed feeders, both browsing and grazing.

The market for hunting exotic coloured animals is the drive behind breeding dark ones such as this.

I was interested to read in the article linked below that at one time specially bred colour variants of animals such as impala and wildebeest were big money-spinners: “In 2014, breeders advertised golden wildebeest for between R500 000 and R1.4-million and black impala from R190 000 to R500 000.” This is no longer the case: it seems too many breeders jumped onto that bandwagon and so such animals are no longer considered ‘rare’ and the demand for them has dropped.

So much for interfering with nature to gain a ‘buck’ or two!