THE LOVELY RED HARTEBEEST

The Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) has been featured twice before in this blog. This is not surprising for these plains animals with a conspicuously white rump are always a pleasure to see – especially when their reddish-brown coats shine in the sun.

These two adults are standing close to a youngster in the Addo Elephant National Park. Note the different colour of the young one as well as its short spiky horns. Here is a closer view of a different lanky youngster.

A little further on, an adult picks its way over the dry stony ground towards the water at the Domkrag dam.

There are antelope droppings near its front feet and elephant droppings on the ground ahead of it. They are frequently seen alongside zebra in the plains.

These two appear to be unperturbed by the fighting zebras in their midst. The length and narrow width of the muzzle of the Red Hartebeest make it a selective feeder. Being non-ruminants, zebras are bulk grazers and have wider muzzles that help them to be more tolerant of the available grazing.

RED HARTEBEEST 2

Here is a Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus caama) sitting comfortably next to the road in the Addo Elephant National Park. Judging from the droppings surrounding it, it had been there for some time and showed no intention to move.

You can tell it has been sitting very still by looking at the flies on its eye and nose. It did not appear to be bothered by them when I parked next to it to take photographs. As you can see, these antelope have long narrow faces.

The rather soulful look of the adult can be seen in this youngster too.

Here is a mother with its calf.

NOTE: Please click on a photograph if you wish to see a larger view.

BREEDING SEASON

What would spring be without the appearance of baby birds, zebra foals and young antelope? The Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus caama) in the Addo Elephant National Park seem to have enjoyed a successful breeding season.

The calves, some only a few weeks old, are generally well camouflaged in the grass as they rest curled up near the adults.

Red Hartebeest are grazers that prefer medium to long grass and so are clearly visible in the open grassy areas of the park, their bronze coats shining in the sun.

Although they are sociable animals, the breeding herds consist of cows and their calves – the cows give birth to single calves at the onset of the rainy season. These remain well hidden for the first few days, joining other youngsters in their maternal herds once they are strong enough.

The dark tails of the animals, seen against the pale heart shape on the rumps of the adults, make them easy to follow.

RED HARTEBEEST

One cannot mistake the distinctive livery of the Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) for their coats are a shiny reddish brown, with a distinctive white rump.

It is thought that these white rumps may help to reflect heat or, act as a warning or when the darker tail is moved across it. Notice the mud on the horns in the picture.

Both sexes have heavily ringed horns on a pedestal base and point backwards. The Red Hartebeest have an interesting practice of covering their horns with mud, which may be a way of intimidating their rivals. You can see a patch of mud still adhering to these horns. Dark areas stretch down from the shoulders to the hooves and the lateral sides of the front and hind limbs are mainly black.

Note the black blaze on the face and the goat-like eyes.

These animals are mostly active during the day, when they can be seen grazing on medium-height grass stands. Mud is evident on these horns too.

They do not have to drink water every day as long as there is sufficient moisture in the grass they eat. Nonetheless, here are some at Domkrag Waterhole in the Addo Elephant National Park.