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Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus)



Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus)
Red hartebeest vary in color from rich reddish brown to yellowish fawn, with a darker saddle from the shoulders to the base of the tail, broadening out over the rump. The top of its muzzle and forehead are black, and it has a black stripe on the front of its shoulders that continues down onto its forelegs, and black high on its hind legs (Liechtenstein's hartebeest lacks these markings.). All the black markings are glossy and iridescent. Its rump is pale yellow or off-white. There is a brush of longer black hair on the tail. Both sexes have horns, heavily ridged almost to the tips.



I. DESCRIPTION:

  • Red hartebeest vary in color from rich reddish brown to yellowish fawn, with a darker saddle from the shoulders to the base of the tail, broadening out over the rump.
  • The top of its muzzle and forehead are black, and it has a black stripe on the front of its shoulders that continues down onto its forelegs, and black high on its hind legs (Liechtenstein's hartebeest lacks these markings.). All the black markings are glossy and iridescent.
  • Its rump is pale yellow or off-white. There is a brush of longer black hair on the tail.
  • Both sexes have horns, heavily ridged almost to the tips.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
  • Red hartebeest live in open grasslands, semi-arid bush savanna and, to a lesser extent, open woodland. Their range is quite extensive.
  • They avoid denser woodland, except when passing through, and choose ranges independent of water but will drink if it is available.
III. DIET:
  • The red hartebeest is a selective grazer and browser, preferring specific species of plant, and leaves to stems.
  • If no water is available, it will eat melons and dig for tubers.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
  • Mating occurs at the end of the wet season (May, in southern Africa), triggered by the shorter days and longer, cooler nights. Approximately 80 percent of births occur in October or November.
  • The red hartebeest breeds annually, and gestation lasts eight months.
  • Red hartebeest begin grazing at 2 weeks and are weaned at 7 to 8 months of age. Cows first calve at 3 years old. Both sexes live to 15 to 16 years old.
  • Its open habitat and speed make the red hartebeest difficult prey for larger carnivores, such as lions.
  • Bulls check females' reproductive condition by sniffing their genitals; courtship consists of approaching with head stretched forward and ears lowered, and nudging with the snout.
  • Copulation is brief and repeated.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
  • Adapted to hot and arid conditions; blood going to the brain is cooled by heat exchange with blood coming from the nasal membranes.



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