The New International Encyclopædia/Antelope
AN′TELOPE (Gk. ἀνθόλοψ, antholops, a horned animal). Any of many hollow-horned ruminants forming a group (formerly esteemed the family Antilopidæ) within the family Bovidæ, and usually classified between the cattle and goats. The English word, in its widest popular use, often includes on the one hand a group represented by the chamois and the Rocky Mountain goat, preferably designated goat-antelopes; and on the other the American antelope or pronghorn (q.v.), which belongs to a quite different family. Scientifically, as now restricted by R. Lydekker and recent students, the term excludes these forms. The group cannot be demarked from other bovines by definite characters, yet as a whole it is easily recognized by the graceful build of its members (exhibited in the accompanying illustrations), their short hair, lively colors, manner of carrying the head uplifted, and the absence of a goat-like beard. “The horns, which may or may not be present in the females, are generally long, more or less cylindrical, and often lyrate in shape; while they are frequently marked with prominent rings and have an upright direction. Their bony internal cores, instead of being honeycombed, as in the oxen, sheep and goats, are nearly solid throughout. These animals generally have a gland beneath the eye, by which they are distinguished from the oxen and goats.”—(Lydekker). In size they vary from a foot in height to the bigness of a large horse. Almost all are timid, peaceable animals, with small means of defense, and trusting for safety to the agility and fleetness in which they excel. Most of them inhabit plains, and these are highly gregarious; a few are found only in mountainous regions, while others dwell in pairs or small bands in jungles and deep forests. Paleontologists inform us that antelopes are the most generalized members of the Bovidæ now existing, and “since they are also its oldest known representatives, it is probable that from them have been derived the more specialized types,”—oxen, sheep, goats, etc.
Though now wholly restricted to Asia and Africa, the antelopes had formerly a wide distribution in Europe and Asia alone. Their disappearance from Europe and spread into Africa within recent times (geologically speaking), and their enormous multiplication there, form one of the most remarkable incidents in the history of the mammalia. When South Africa was first penetrated by Europeans, many species were found ranging its grassy plains in enormous herds, which formed the principal resource for animal food of the natives and a great number of carnivorous animals. This continued until the middle of the nineteenth century, when the rapid spread of English and Dutch colonization swept them away. Vast numbers were wasted by sportsmen and reckless colonists, or were killed for the sake of their flesh and hides, until now the great herds have disappeared from the remotest veldts, many species a few years ago numbered by tens of thousands are reduced to scattered bands, and others have become wholly extinct. The wide and rapid destruction of these abundant, valuable, and beautiful animals can be paralleled elsewhere only by the swift extermination of the American bison. Several species are represented only by small bands preserved upon private estates.
Antelopes fall into certain groups having a common resemblance. These will be outlined here, leaving the reader to consult for details the separate articles upon individual species, the most important of which will be found described in their alphabetical places. One collocation is that of the antelopine gazelles, including a large number of species elegantly shaped and colored, as a rule not exceeding 30 inches in height, with hairy muzzles and teeth resembling those of goats, and with ringed and usually lyrate or spiral horns; they inhabit deserts from the Cape of Good Hope to India. Here among less noteworthy kinds, fall the familiar ariel and other gazelles, the black-buck of India, the saiga, chiru, springbok, impalla, and the like. Another group (cerricaprine) is represented by the small African reed-bucks, the larger water-bucks, cobus, etc., the smaller rehboks and klipspringer, and the diminutive steinboks. A third (cephalophine) group is composed of the duikerboks and other forest-ranging species of Africa, among which are the smallest known ruminants, the least (see Bluebuck) being only 13 inches tall. Only the males of these are provided with horns, and one species (see Chousingha) has four horns. These pygmies are connected with the cattle by the alcephaline antelopes, all large African species characterized by their much greater height at the withers than at the rump, and by having horns in both sexes, the cores of which are cellular as in oxen; prominent examples are the hartbeests, blesbok, bontebok, and gnus. Diverging oppositely from the typical gazelles toward the goats, the hippotragine section has been made to include very large African antelopes having long, stout, ringed horns in both sexes, such as the sable and roan antelopes, the extinct blaubok, addax, gemsbok and allied species. Another set of large species is the tragelaphine, represented in India by the nilgai, and in Africa by the bushbuck, koodoo, eland, etc. They are the largest, most valuable, and handsomest of all, their ground colors being bright and often ornamented or “harnessed” with conspicuous stripes, while their faces are beautifully marked. Consult: For former abundance in Africa, Harris, Game Animals of Africa (London, 1840), with colored folio plates; Lichtstein, Säugethiere und Vögel aus dem Kaffernlande (Berlin, 1842); and the narratives of Livingstone, Gordon Cumming, Andersson, Drummond, Baker, Schweinfurth, Selous, and similar explorers and sportsmen. For more modern conditions, Millais, A Breath from the Veldt (London, 1895); and Bryden, Nature and Sport in South Africa (London, 1897). For Asiatic species, Baker, Wild Beasts and their Ways (London, 1890); Blanford, Fauna of British India: Mammals (London, 1888). For zoölogy, Sclater and Thomas, The Book of the Antelopes (London, 1896); Brooke, Proceedings of the Zoölogical Society of London (1871-73).
For the so-called antelope of western North America, see Pronghorn.
|COPYRIGHT 1902, BY DODD, MEAD & COMPANY||JULIUS BIEN & CO.LITH.N.Y.|
|1 DUIKERBOK - CEPHALOLOPHUS SYLVICULTOR||3 PRONGHORN - ANTILOCAPRA AMERICANA|
|2 BUSH BUCK - TRAGELAPHUS SYLVATICUS||4 SAIGA - ANTILOPE SAIGA|
|1⁄10 NATURAL SIZE|
|1. BUBALINE ANTELOPE (Bubalis muritania);||5. BRINDLED GNU OR BLUE WILDEBEEST|
|type of Hartebeests.||(Connochoetes taurina).|
|2. NILGAI (Bosephalus tragocamelus).||6. SING-SING (Cobus defassa); type of Waterbucks.|
|3. RDAN ANTELOPE (Hippotragus equinus).||7. SABLE ANTELOPE (Hippotragus niger).|
|4. BEISA (Dryx beisa); type of Gemsboks.||8. ELAND (Orias canna).|