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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Red Hartebeest


Introduction: Red hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, but their sense of sight is poor. When alarmed, they tend to mill about in seeming confusion, snorting nervously before running off. Once in its stride, a hartebeest can achieve a speed of 65km/hr, zigzagging left and right in its characteristic bouncing flight, which make it more difficult for predators to catch them. Like the blue wildebeest, it has an uncanny sense of direction and will find water and fresh grazing after rain has fallen a considerable distance away.

They are normally associated with open country, occurring on various types of grassland, in semi-desert bush savannah and in some cases open woodland.

Distribution: Red hartebeest are fairly common throughout central Namibia and the Kalahari Desert and small herds can sometimes be observed while landing at Windhoek International Airport.

Diet: Red hartebeest are predominantly grazers and are water independent, but will drink it if available.

Coloring: Most individuals are a reddish-brown colour, although this does vary to yellow-brown or tawny. Not always obvious is a darker saddle which extends on the mid-back from the shoulders to the base of the tail, not so dark on females. They have a black forehead, with a patch of reddish-brown across the face between and in front of the eyes, and a black band on top of the muzzle.

Breeding: Expectant females leave the herd in early summer and give birth to a single calf, usually between September and December, after an 8 month gestation period. The female visits the calf to suckle and clean it. Once it is strong enough, it joins the herd with its mother, who can recognize their young from a distance of 300m.

Size: The average shoulder height for a male is 1.25m and 1.1m for a female. They weigh around 150kg for the male and 120kg for the female.

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