Types of African Antelopes and Okapi


About 90 species of African antelope roam the continent, but they're joined by only one species of okapi. The okapi isn't related to the antelope; its closest relative is the giraffe. An antelope is an even-toed ungulate realted to cattle, goats and sheep. Okapi and antelopes are browsers, which means they eat twigs, shoots and leaves of trees and shrubs. Antelopes also graze, which means they eat ground-level plants.

The Okapi

  • The okapi is a ruminant found only in the tropical forest of Zaire in altitudes between 1640 and 3,281 feet. Its average body length is 8 feet and it stands about 5 feet at the shoulder. It has a long neck, large flexible ears and a brown body. The okapi has zebra stripes on its legs and hindquarters and white stockings on the ankles. The coloring is used for camouflage in the forests where it lives. Like its relative the giraffe, the okapi has a long black tongue used for browsing and grooming. Their diet is varied, and they have even been known to eat charcoal from burnt trees.


  • Antilopinae is a subfamily in the family bovidae. Generally they're small to medium-sized antelope evolved for running over open territory. The springbok lives in Southern Africa. It's 48 to 56 inches long and stands 29 to 35 inches high at the shoulder and weighs 66 to 106 lbs. The Thomson's gazelle lives in Kenya, Tanzania and southern Sudan. It is from 2.6 to 4 feet long, stands 1.8 to 2.6 feet high at the shoulder and weighs 33 to 77 lbs. The gerenuk is a bit larger, at around 95 lbs. and 55 to 63 inches long and lives close to the same region as the Thomson's. All browse and graze, and the gerenuk is known for standing on its hind legs to reach otherwise inaccessible tree leaves. They all live in herds whose compositions vary from bachelor herds to maternity groups to males with harems.


  • The dik-dik, named for their alarm call, are the smallest antelopes. They are of the genus madoqua. At least three species of dik-diks are found in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Namibia, Tanzania and Angola. They stand about a foot at the shoulder and weigh from 6.6 to 11 lbs. Dik-diks are so small that they must eat a great deal, mostly leaves of trees and shrubs, grasses and herbs and sedges. They get most of their water from the vegetation they eat. They live in family groups of parents and their offspring.


  • The Taurotragus genus has two species of antelope, the common and giant eland. Elands are the largest antelopes. The giant eland lives from Senegal through southern Sudan. The males are bigger than the females and weigh between 882 and 2,204 lbs. The females weigh between 661 and 1,323 lbs. The male stands 4 to 6 feet high at the shoulder and is 7 to 11 feet long. The giant eland has huge spiral horns and even these can be up to 4 feet long on the males. The common eland is found from Ethiopia down to South Africa and is only slightly smaller than the giant eland. Both elands live in herds of about 25 individuals and eat leaves and fruits from trees, grasses and herbs. Elands are used for meat, hides and milk -- despite their size they're docile animals and easy to domesticate.


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