Kongoni (Cokes Hartebeest)
The hartebeest is a large, fawn-colored antelope. It is one of the fastest antelopes and most enduring runners. These qualities gave rise to its name, which means “tough ox.” Its sedentary lifestyle seems to inhibit the mixing of populations and gene flow; as a result, there are several subspecies of hartebeest.
Hartebeest are mainly found in medium and tall grasslands, including savannas.
Adult females are often accompanied by up to four generations of their young. Female offspring remain close to their mothers up to the time they give birth to calves of their own. Even male offspring may remain with their mothers for as long as 3 years, an unusually long bonding period. As groups of females move in and out of male territories, the males sometimes chase away the older offspring. Their mothers become defensive and protect them from the males. Although bachelor herds of young males are also formed, they are less structured than those of some antelopes, and age classes are not as conspicuous.
Young are born throughout the year, but conception and breeding peaks may be influenced by the availability of food. The behavior of the female hartebeest when she gives birth is very different from that of the wildebeest. Instead of calving in groups on open plains, the hartebeest female isolates herself in scrub areas to give birth and leaves the young calf hidden for a fortnight, only visiting it briefly to suckle.
The hartebeest feeds almost entirely on grass, but is not very selective and quite tolerant of poor-quality food. Although a prolific breeder and even a dominant species in some areas, the hartebeest has probably suffered the greatest reduction in range of all African ruminants. This is both because it is easily hunted (being relatively sedentary), and because its diet is almost equivalent to that of cattle—it must compete for food resources.
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