Acquired: Bred animal myself
Posted Jul 31, 2016
Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi), from the Highveld of South Africa, make an interesting change from the normal deer so often seen in parks and estates.
Blesbok are medium-sized antelopes, reaching about 40 inches high in the male, which can weigh as much as 175 pounds. They are dark reddish brown in color, with a white belly and lower limbs. They also have a white blaze down their face, which is why they are called blesbok in Afrikaans: bles is the word for blaze and bok is a buck or antelope. Both sexes have black, S-shaped horns up to 15 inches in length.
On our farm we had around 20 blesbok, which often split into two herds. Blesbok need about 2.5 acres per animal but in some locations laws control the number of animals based on the size of the farm or reserve. Blesbok are short grass grazers.
We enjoyed having them on our farm as they were docile and easy to watch. They would often run if we approached on foot or if our car got too close, but would stop after only a hundred yards and graze again.
We found an abandoned calf which we passed on a wildlife sanctuary to be hand-reared. Chancy (as we named her) returned to our farm at four months old. She spent the majority of her time with the main herd and had several calves but if we shouted her name, she would run over to us. On occasions she would come looking for us and spend time in our garden or grazing alongside us if we walked in the veld. A few times she even came into the house to find us!
The main herd didn’t seem to mind if she smelled of humans. After a feed and a cuddle, Chancy would wander back to the herd and graze with them.
As with any horned animal, caution was necessary when she was nearby. She was essentially a wild animal and I have read of cases of people being seriously injured after their tame antelope inadvertently stabbed them.
If you have a sufficiently large plot of land, and it is legal to do so in your area, I would recommend blesbok. Although blesboks are wild, herd animals, Chancy was semi-domesticated. The fact that she was as happy with her own kind as she was with us was a bonus. We were very fortunate to share her company.