The Serengeti is a huge tract of land stretching from northern Tanzania to southwestern Kenya in Africa. It is more than 12,000 square miles and encompasses the Serengeti National Park, which is home to more than 30 species of mammals, including 16 different kinds of antelope. Antelope are one of the primary food sources for Africa’s large predators including lions, leopards and even crocodiles.
The Bigger the Better
The eland is one of the largest antelope species in the world. Males are 7 to 9 feet in length and can weigh 2,000 pounds or more. Females are 6 to 9 feet long, weighing 660 to 1,300 pounds. Their coat is tan, their mouths are small and their horns are sharp and pointy at the end. The hartebeest is 48 inches tall and weighs between 165 to 350 pounds. Hartebeest young form a strong and lasting attachment to their mother. Often up to four generations will be seen together. The topi antelope is medium in size ranging from 3.5 to 4.5 feet in length and weighing between 200 and 300 pounds. Their glossy coats have either a reddish or purple color. Topi prefer to inhabit the flood plains of the Serengeti and are frequently seen in herds of 15 to 20 animals.
The dik-dik is the smallest antelope in the Serengeti. They are 14 to 16 inches tall with horns that are 3 inches in length. They weigh between 10 and 21 pounds and can reach speeds up to 42 mph. These adorable antelope have large, dark eyes encircled by a white ring. They mate for life and are rarely seen apart from their mate. The klipspringer is a small antelope that prefers the rocky areas of the Serengeti. They are nimble and sure-footed on rough terrain, enabling them to escape from their predators. Females are 24 to 35 pounds and males are 19 to 26 pounds. The klipspringer has small horns averaging 3 to 4 inches in length. The oribi is a small, slender antelope with a brown and white coat. They are found in small herds averaging one male and two females. Males are 24 to 37 pounds and females are 17 to 44 pounds.
The Thomson’s gazelle is among the most common antelope in the Serengeti. They stand 22 to 26 inches tall and weigh between 35 and 55 pounds. Thomson’s gazelles prefer the open plains and grasslands. They calve twice annually and hide their young in the open fields. Because calves are able to stay motionless for extended periods of time they are often invisible to predators. The giant waterbuck is also a common species in the Serengeti, standing 50 inches tall and weighing 330 to 500 pounds. The waterbuck frequently takes refuge in swamps and bodies of water to escape predators. Their skin secretes a greasy substance, which is believed to waterproof their shaggy coats. The wildebeest is the most common antelope in the Serengeti with a population close to 1 million. They travel an average of 30 miles per day and 1,000 miles per year.
Elusive and Rare
The bushbuck is an elusive antelope that prefers to inhabit the deep forests of the Serengeti. It is infrequently seen and prefers to live alone instead of in herds. The East African oryx is rare in the Serengeti. They are 47 inches tall and can weigh up to 390 pounds. Their formidable horns can grow 30 inches in length. The lesser kudo is also rare in this region. Females form small herds with six to 10 members. Males are usually solitary, joining a female herd only during breeding season.