Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygarus)
The Bontebok is a medium-sized, generally dark brown antelope with a prominent, wide white blaze on its face, with a pure white rump, belly and hocks, and black-tipped tail. Both sexes have horns, although the horns of rams are heavier and longer than those of ewes.
This is a plains antelope, preferring short-grass plains within the vegetation typical of the fynbos plant kingdom.
This is a seasonal breeder. Ewes become sexually active at two years of age. The rut takes place between January and mid March. Single calves are born during September and October after a gestation period of 238 – 254 days.
Gregarious and diurnal. Rams are territorial and during the breeding season will defend a small nursery of two to eight females and their young. Young males congregate in large bachelor herds.
Bontebok was hunted so severely by colonists that in 1830 only 22 remained. Today they are protected in the Bontebok National Park, which was proclaimed in 1931. In 1992 this population grew to 2000. In 1961 a second reserve near Swellendam was proclaimed, which today carries 200-300 bontebok. Historically, the distribution of the bontebok was confined to the southwestern Cape, from where it was also relocated to other conservation areas outside its natural range.
The Bontebok name stems from the colouring and originates from the Dutch settlers who arrived in the 1600’s. A subspecies of the Blesbok, the two have interbred a great deal and there is a view among some conservationists that there are no true strains of either left.