Photo: Blesbok and Bontebok

02Nov
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Differences between the bontebok and the blesbok

The bontebok is a species of antelope with two subspecies - the blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) and the endangered bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygarus). The blesbok can be seen at Kariega while the bontebok can only be found in the Fynbos and Renosterveld areas of South Africa's Western Cape.

Kariega Blesbok Keith Carney June14

The two antelope are difficult to tell apart. Blesbok (pictured above) are typically lighter brown in colour. They have a brown patch which divides the white blaze on their faces. 

Bontebok Np Copyright Scott Ramsay Www.Yearinthewild.Com 5

The bontebok (pictured above) is darker brown with flanks, head and upper legs that are almost purple-black plum in colour. Another difference is that the bontebok has black horns while the front of the blesbok's horns tend to be yellow-brown in colour.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, overhunting of the bontebok brought it to the verge of extinction. It was saved from extinction in the mid-19th century by a few Cape farming families who protected the small population. From a low of less than 20 animals in the original Bontebok National Park (established near Bredasdorp in 1931), the population of this antelope has gradually recovered to approximately 3,500 today. 

Blesbok conservation at Kariega

Excessive hunting also reduced the number of blesbok to about 2,000 by the late 19th century. Since then it has made a spectacular recovery, thanks to conservation efforts made by wilderness reserves such as Kariega.

Thanks to Keith Carney for sharing the beautiful blesbok picture with us after his Eastern Cape safari. 

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