Red Hartebeest

© Shem Compion

Name

Red hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus caama)

Appearance

The red hartebeest bull measures about 1.3 m to the shoulders with a weight of 150 kg, whereas cows weigh only 120 kg. The red hartebeest is a big antelope with a sloping back and slim face, reddish-brown in colour.

Both cows and bulls have horns with many rings. There are 12 subspecies of hartebeest in Africa, the red hartebeest being the only occurring in South Africa. It is more widely distributed today due to its reintroduction on game farms and in nature reserves.

Red Hartebeest Diet

They are largely grazing species, feeding on medium-height grass and new regrowth after rain and veld fires.

Red Hartebeest Breeding

After a gestation period of 8 month, a single calf is born. This occurs in South Africa before the summer rains. For a short period after the calf is born, its other hides it in dense vegetation before it joins the herd.

Red Hartebeest Behaviour

The red hartebeest is a social animal, gathering in herds of up to 30. Bulls are territorial, marking their territories with piles of dung and making themselves visible by standing on mounds.

Where They Are Found

Red hartesbeest can be found in northwestern South Africa, Namibia, the Kalahari and southern Botswana, preferring arid regions as their habitat.

Field Notes

The name ‘hartebeest’ derives from the Dutch word for deer 'hert' and 'beest' meaning beast. ‘Hartebeest’ was thought to refer to the shape of a heart, but it was named so by early Boers who described the animal to look like a deer.