Red Hartebeest

Scientific Name:

Alcelaphus buselaphus caama or A. caama

The red hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus caama or A. caama) is a species of even-toed ungulate in the Bovidae family found in Southern Africa. More than 130,000 individuals are left. The red hartebeest is closely related to the tsessebe and the topi. Alcelaphus buselaphus caama is a large African antelope of the Bovidae family, one of ten subspecies; it is sometimes treated as a separate species, A. caama. Commonly known as the red hartebeest, it is the most colorful hartbeest. The life expectancy of a red hartebeest is around 19 years. Hartebeests have an excellent sense of hearing and smell, although their sense of sight is poor. When alarmed, hartebeests elude confusion before running, by which they can reach a maximum speed of 55 km/hr. Their evasion tactic is to run in a zigzag pattern, making it difficult for predators to catch them.


It is the most colourful hartebeest with black markings contrasting against its white abdomen and behind. It has a long face with complex curving horns joining at the base.


Red hartebeests are grass feeders, which is evidenced by their long snouts, which give the advantage of an improved cropping ability to acquire and masticate grasses more efficiently. During the rainy season in southern Africa, the grass species Andropogon is in abundance and is the main source of dietary consumption. As grazers, their diets fluctuate seasonally, as they consume higher-quality, green primary production in wet seasons and lower-quality sheath material in the dry seasons. Hartebeests are considered less water-dependent than most alcelaphines, only needing to drink water when melons and tubers are inaccessible.


The red hartebeest is primarily found in southwestern Africa. Southern Africa’s dissected topography, geologic diversity, climate oscillations, and mosaic of distinct vegetation types has been the primary means for radiation and diversification amidst hartebeest species, which has led red hartebeests to vary slightly in their capacity to consume the diets they do. Most ungulates in Africa are nomadic, as they are dependent on food sources that become depleted if they stay in one place. A. buselaphus lives in herds in open plains and scrublands in the sub-Saharan African climate.