The blesbok or blesbuck (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) is an antelope endemic to South Africa. It has a distinctive white face and forehead which inspired the name, because bles is the Afrikaans word for a blaze such as one might see on the forehead of a horse. The blesbok is endemic to South Africa and is found in large numbers in all national parks with open grasslands, from the Highveld in Transvaal and the Free State, to as far south as the Eastern Cape. It is a plains species and dislikes wooded areas. It was first discovered in the 17th century, in numbers so numerous, herds reached from horizon to horizon.
A characteristic of the blesbok is the prominent white blaze on the face and a horizontal brown strip which divides this blaze above the eyes. Body colour is brown with a lighter-coloured saddle on the back, and the rump an even lighter shade. The legs are brown with a white patch behind the top part of the front legs. Lower legs are whitish. Both sexes carry horns, ringed almost to the tip. Female horns are slightly more slender. The neck and the top of the back of the blesbok is brown. Lower down on the flanks and buttocks, the coloring becomes darker. The belly, the inside of the buttocks and the area up to the base of the tail is white. Blesbok can be easily differentiated from other antelopes because they have a distinct white face and forehead. The blesbok differs from the bontebok by having less white on the coat and the blaze on the face, which is usually divided, the coat is also a lighter yellow than that of the bontebok. The length of their horns averages at around 38 cm. Male adult blesbok average around 70 kg; females average lower, at around 61 kg.
Short grass, and particularly favours fresh green grass appearing after a veld burn.
Blesbok can be found in open veld or plains of South Africa. Their preferred habitat is open grassland with water. They often occupy relatively small territories of 2.5 to 6.0 acres in size. They were once one of the most abundant antelope species of the African plains, but have become scarce since 1893 due to relentless hunting for their skins and meat. The blesbok’s distribution is restricted to the Republic of South Africa. Its historic range includes the Eastern Cape, Free State, southern parts of the former Transvaal, marginally in KwaZulu-Natal along the upper reaches of the Tugela River and into Lesotho, west of the Maluti Mountains.