Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Coke's Hartebeest

The hartebeest is an African antelope with eight subspecies, one of which, the Bubal hartebeest of North Africa, is now extinct. The subspecies we encountered, Coke's hartebeest or kongoni, is found in Kenya and Tanzania. Six other subspecies are found in other areas of Africa and there are some cross-subspecies as well. Among other differences, each subspecies has different shaped horns and different variations in coloring. The name "hartebeest" comes from the Afrikaans word "hertebeest," a name given them by the Boers who thought they looked like deer. The Dutch word "hert" means "deer" and "beest" means "beast." The hartebeest is tall, narrow, has a high-shoulder, and a long narrow head.
Coke's hartebeest in Nairobi NP - by far our best viewing of hartebeest. 
Also in Nairobi NP.
An elongated forehead forms a bony pedicle that supports the horns. 
Large pedicle on top of head. In Ngorongoro Crater. Photo by John Mirau.
Coke's hartebeest is one of the smallest subspecies with a less developed pedicle. The color is reddish tawny/fawn/tan on its upper parts and lighter on its rump and lower parts.
In Nairobi NP.
Young hartebeest in Nairobi NP.
It has thick, short horns that diverge almost horizontally at the base, then turn upwards and backwards.
Various views on horns. Good view of them slanting backwards.
Both males and females have horns. Herds consist of 5 to 10 females and young and the males only join them when breeding or herding.
In Serengeti NP where we only saw one or two hartebeest.
In Ngorongoro Crater.
Hartebeest meat is considered very good which has made it a popular game animal. That, along with habitat destruction, human incursion on their habitat and competition with domestic cattle for food has made their numbers drop quite dramatically. 

1 comment:

  1. They have an almost mythical look with their pitchfork-shaped horns and leaf-like ears. Beautiful animals.