Blue Antelopes. Unknown copyright licence.
Blue Antelope (1801). This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the European Union, Canada, the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.
|TEW Status||Extinct (EX), Year assessed: 2010|
|IUCN Status||Extinct (EX), Year assessed: 2008|
|English Name||Bluebuck, Blue Antelope|
|French Name||Hippotrague Bleu|
|Hungarian Name||Kék Lóantilop|
|Italian Name||Antilope Azzurra|
|Russian Name||антилопа голубая|
|Spanish Name||Hipotrago Azul, Antílope Azul|
century travellers provided contradictory descriptions of this species,
perhaps because some were embellishing, while others had not actually seen
it and were simply repeating hearsay. They did send some skulls and skins
back to Europe. In 1967, Erna Mohr reported that the four existing mounted
blue antelopes vary from 102 to 116 cm at the shoulder. Adult bluebuck
probably rarely exceeded 160 kg. None of the four museum specimens shows
any sheen of blue. The dark skin showing through the thinning fur of older
animals may have caused the blue colours described by several authors or
the mix of black and yellow hears. Like most antelopes, the bluebuck had
six teeth along the cheek in each half of the upper and lower jaws. These
formed two distinct series three premolars immediately followed by three
|Range & Habitat||When
the Europeans settled in the Cape Colony in the 17th and 18th
century the bluebuck was probably restricted to the area south of
Swellendam, South Africa. The early travellers found the bluebuck only in
relatively well-watered grassy country.
Image: the former range of the blue antelope (in red). Created by Peter Maas for The Extinction Website. The copyright holder of this work has released it into the public domain. This applies worldwide.
habitat was relatively well-watered grassy country, which suggests that it
had to drink regularly, like the roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus)
and sable antelope (Hippotragus niger). Many other antelopes can
obtain the moisture they need from the plants they eat and they can go for
long periods without drinking. The bluebuck lived in small herds of up to
twenty individuals, and it was primarily a grass-eater or grazer that
sometimes fed on the same pastures as sheep. However, like most grazers,
it probably also took some broad leaves or browse. (Klein 1987)
|History & Population||
The extinction of the
blue antelope is a unique event in southern Africa, as it represents the
only extinction of a large mammal in this subregion in the last 350 years
and the first recorded African large mammal extinction in historic times.
(Kerley et al. 2006; Klein 1987; Van
den Hoek Ostende 1999)
after the last Ice Age, about 10.000 years ago the bluebuck must have been
common in the far south of Africa, which was largely covered with grassy
plains. Numerous finds of subfossil bones indicate a former distribution
area from the westernmost tip of the present Cape Colony to about 25° E.
Bluebuck numbers dropped about 2000 years ago. Why is something of an
enigma? Various factors have been indicated: the change of grassland into
bush and forest when the climate became warmer, or the introduction of
livestock, particularly sheep, by man at about that time. Competition with
sheep, diseases or hunting may all have contributed to a decline in
bluebuck. (Van den Hoek Ostende
German Peter Kolb was the first to write about the existence of a
"blue buck" in 1719. The bluebuck was clearly on its way to
extinction, when European naturalists and hunters finally discovered it.
Its range was already small when Europeans who settled in the Cape Colony
in the 17th and 18th century first saw this antelope. The Swedish
naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg noted in 1774 that these animals were
becoming rare. According to the German zoologist Martin Lichtenstein, the
last bluebuck was killed in 1799, elsewhere he wrote 1800. (Van
den Hoek Ostende 1999)
Cultivation of the Cape Colony and hunting with firearms were the main causes of the extinction of the blue antelopes (Van den Hoek Ostende 1999).
bluebuck was gone before the early natural history cabinets and museum had
a chance to obtain a fair number of specimens. In fact, it is a miracle
that any were preserved at all. There
are four mounted Bluebuck skins: in the National
Museum of Natural History
“Naturalis” in Leiden (the
Netherlands), and in the natural history museums of Stockholm
(Sweden), Paris (France) and Vienna
(Austria). Not counting the many bones excavated throughout the species'
former range, there are two skulls, in Amsterdam
(the Netherlands) and Glasgow (United Kingdom),
and three pairs of horns, in Uppsala
(Sweden), London (United Kingdom) and Capetown
(South Africa). None of these specimens is properly documented. (Van
den Hoek Ostende 1999)
Two close relatives of the Bluebuck are the Roan Antelope Hippotragus equines (right) and the Sable Antelope Hippotragus niger (left).
(left) Sable Antelope bull, photographed by Paul Maritz near Kafue River
in Zambia, 2004. (right) Young roan bull, photographed by Paul Maritz in
Ndevu, Zambia, 2003. These
two photos are released under the GNU
Free Documentation License.
were a lot of speculations that the Giant or Angolan Sable Antelope (Hippotragus
niger variani) had gone extinct. There had been unconfirmed sightings in
recent years, but no confirmed sightings for 20 years. This subspecies of
the Sable Antelope did only occur in Angola, and there are none in zoos
anywhere. An expedition headed to Angola on 14 August 2002 to search for
the giant sable antelope. Scientists and others hope that this majestic
antelope has survived the southwest African nation's decades-long civil
expedition had tried hunting for the antelope by helicopter, but the
animals avoid sound at all costs. Interviews with tribal chiefs revealed
that locals often sighted the animals in the Luando reserve so the
expedition changed tactics and carried out ground surveys on foot. They
recorded five separate sightings but were not able to take any
five animals, whose spectacular scimitar horns sweep back more than five
feet over their heads, were spotted in Cangandala National Park in Malanje
province in north-central Angola by a team led by Professor Wouter van
Hoven of the University of Pretoria.
National d'Histoire Naturelle Paris,
Natuurhistorisch Museum Naturalis
Leiden, The Netherlands.
Antelope Specialist Group 1996. Hippotragus leucophaeus. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 28 May 2006.
Kerley, G., R. Sims-Castley, A. Boshoff, and R. Cowling. 2006. Insights into the circumstances leading to the extinction of the blue antelope, derived from modelling of historical mammal distribution and abundance. Department of Zoology (GK, RS, AB) and Department of Botany (RC), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Klein, R.G. 1987. The extinct blue antelope. Sagittarius, Volume 2, Number 3.
Robinson, T. J., Bastos, A. D., Halanych, K. M., and Herzig, B. (1996b). Mitochondrial DNA sequence relationships of the extinct blue antelope Hippotragus leucophaeus. Naturwissenschaften 83: 178–182.
Van den Hoek Ostende, L.W. 1999. Blaauwbok - One of the first to become extinct. 300 Pearls - Museum highlights of natural diversity. Downloaded on 28 May 2006.
Wikipedia contributors. Bluebuck [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 Mar 18, 21:24 UTC [cited 2006 May 28]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bluebuck&oldid=44407618.
Last updated: 3th March 2010.
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