There are a number of endangered antelopes. One of these is the addax or screwhorn antelope. It is also called the white antelope. Its taxonomic name is Addax nasomaculatus. Addax means wild animal with crooked horns. The species name means spotted or marked nose. Its nearest relation is the oryx.
Range and Habitat
Although the addax was once found from northern Africa to Arabia, it is now extremely rare and listed as critically endangered. It is mostly found in isolated areas of the Sahara, living in small groups in arid regions, and in sandy or stony deserts. They breed readily on ranches and are shot for the entertainment of hunting parties with their horns being claimed as trophies.
Males and females have similar sized horns. These are curved with two or three twists. A short mane of long black hairs grows between the horns and continues along the top of the neck. Dark patches on the head form an X over the nose. They also have a straggly beard. The tail is short and slender with a tuft of hair on the end.
An adaptation to the changing temperatures from summer to winter is the coat colour. In winter the body coat is a grey-brown with white legs and hindquarters. In summer the coat is much lighter and may even turn white. There are scent glands on the feet.
Males are slightly taller and heavier, reaching around 3 to 4 feet at the wither and weighing 220 to 275 pound. The feet are broad with flat soles and strong dewclaws. This helps prevent them sinking in the soft desert terrain. The addax is nocturnal. It rests during the day in shallow depressions which it digs on the shady sides of boulders. There are no facial glands as seen in other antelopes.
The addax is mainly nocturnal. It can survive without free water almost indefinitely. They get enough moisture from dew from the grass and from the plants they eat. The urine is highly concentrated.
A herd usually consists of five to twenty mixed sex animals. The dominant male leads the herd with females establishing their own hierarchy. Their sensory powers are very acute.
They tend to stay in an area while there is food. When it rains, they move to those areas where grass is more plentiful.
The addax has square teeth like cattle. Its main diet is the Aristida grasses. These sprout with the slightest amount of rain. They also eat the protein rich leaves of Parnicum grass as well as the leaves of small bushes.
The addax has a gestation of between 257 and 264 days. The single calf weighs 10 to 15 pounds. Males mature at three years of age and females at a year old. They have a lifespan of around 19 years.
The addax is quite heavily built and too slow to outpace predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards and African hunting dogs. Horses, dogs and vehicles also have no trouble in running them down. One reason they have not yet been hunted to extinction is because of the extreme conditions of their native terrain. Few predators can cope with the heat and harsh conditions of the addax' natural environment.
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Another very rare antelope is the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), also known as the Vu Quang ox or Asian unicorn. Only 11 of these animals have been recorded alive. To date, all captured saolas have died. They are never seen in cultivated fields or near villages.
Range and Habitat
The saola is found in the moist forests of the Annamite Range. It also frequents the dry and monsoon forests of Eastern Indochina. During the wet seasons, they stay in the mountain forests, only moving to the lowlands in winter.
It stands just under three feet at the shoulder and weighs about 198 pound. The dark brown coat has a black dorsal stripe with dark legs and white patches on the feet. There are white stripes on the cheeks and eyebrows and patches of white on the nose and chin. The horns curve backwards slightly and reach about 18 inches in length.
The saola is rarely seen and moves quietly through the jungle. One of its Lao names translates as 'the polite animal'. They have only ever been seen in groups of two or three. A fleshy flap on the nose opens up to allow the saola to rub scent glands against objects in its path, leaving a pungent paste which smells strongly of musk. These glands are believed to be the largest of any living mammal.
The incisors are small, leading scientists to believe the animal is a browser, eating small leafy plants which grow along the rivers.
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Giant Sable Antelope
The giant sable antelope (Hippotragus niger variani) is also rare. It is a subspecies of the sable antelope and endemic to the region of Angola between the Cuango and Luando rivers. As it is the national symbol of Angola, it is held in high esteem.
Its preferred habitat is in forests near water.
Both sexes are horned. Horns can reach 4 to 5 feet in length. Until the age of three, the sexes are very similar but then the males become darker and develop magnificent horns. Males may grow to over 4 feet tall and weigh around 520 pound. Females are only half this weight and are a little shorter. White eyebrows are the norm together with cheek, belly and rump patches. Adult males are black. Females and younger animals are chestnut. In herds in the southern districts, females become a brown-black.
Although shy by nature, they can be very aggressive. Males are particularly so and are dangerous if they are attacked or cornered. Males engage in combats with each other, locking horns and pushing and shoving. These fights rarely do lasting damage.
If they are startled they will run a short distance then stop. If pursued they can maintain speeds of up to 35 mph for a considerable distance.
These are specialised browsers and are particularly fond of foliage and herbs growing on termite nests. Much of their diet consists of tree leaves.
The only threat to adults are lions and crocodiles. Young stock may be preyed on by leopards and hyenas. It is considered critically endangered.