Alcelaphus buselaphus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Alcelaphus buselaphus (Pallas, 1766)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Hartebeest
French Bubale
Taxonomic Notes: Following Gosling and Capellini (2013), and in contrast to Grubb (2005), this species is here considered to include both Red Hartebeest A. caama and Lichtenstein's Hartebeest A. lichtensteinii. A total of eight subspecies are recognized: Western Hartebeest or Kanki (A. b. major); Lelwel Hartebeest (A. b. lelwel); Tora Hartebeest (A. b. tora); Swayne's Hartebeest or Korkay (A. b. swaynei); Coke's Hartebeest or Kongoni (A. b. cokii); Lichtenstein's Hartebeest; and Red Hartebeest. The eighth and nominate subspecies, the Bubal Hartebeest A. b. buselaphus, from North Africa is now Extinct. Intergrade populations occur between lelwel and cokii and have been reported between others.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-08-17
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
East (1999) estimated numbers of all Hartebeest subspecies at ca 360,000. The most numerous subspecies, Red Hartebeest (130,000) is increasing, although population trends in the other subspecies are declining. On this basis the species as a whole does not meet the criteria for threatened or Near Threatened status.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) formerly ranged from North Africa and the Middle East throughout the savannas and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa and the miombo woodlands of south-central Africa down to the tip of southern Africa; they are absent only from desert and forest, notably the Sahara and the Guinea and Congo Basin rainforests (Gosling and Capellini 2013).

In North Africa, the Bubal Hartebeest occurred in Morocco, Algeria, southern Tunisia, Libya, and parts of the Western Desert in Egypt (the precise southern limits of distribution are not known). Numerous Hartebeest remains have been found in excavations of fossils in Egypt and the Middle East, especially Israel and Jordan, and these, together with illustrations in the tombs of ancient Egyptians, are assumed to be Bubal Hartbeest (Gosling and Capellini 2013). Bubal Hartebeest are now Extinct, the last animals having been shot between 1945 and 1954 in Algeria (De Smet 1989). The last report from south-eastern Morocco was in 1945 (Panouse 1957).

The historical and current ranges of the remaining subspecies can be summarized as follows (after East 1999, Gosling and Capellini 2013):

Western Hartebeest ranged from Senegal eastwards to western Central African Republic and south-west Chad, although they have always been marginal in these last two countries. They have disappeared from much of their former range in this region, surviving mainly in and around protected areas; they no longer occur in The Gambia (though migrants may enter from Senegal).

Tora Hartebeest formerly occurred in western and southwestern Eritrea, north-western Ethiopia and the adjacent border regions of Sudan; they may survive in low numbers in the savannas of Eritrea and some inaccessible parts of Ethiopia, but there have been no reports for many years and it is considered possibly extinct.

Swayne’s Hartebeest occurred throughout the Rift Valley in Ethiopia into northwest Somalia, but now survive in three protected areas: Senkele Wildlife Sanctuary, Nech Sar N.P. and Mazie N.P. (Gosling and Capellinin 2013). They became extinct in north-west Somalia early in the 20th century because of rinderpest.

Lelwel Hartebeest range from southern Chad through Central African Republic, southern Sudan, northern and north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, south-west Ethiopia, north-west Kenya, northern Uganda and extreme north-western Tanzania. They have undergone dramatic reductions in numbers particularly in Uganda and Central African Republic, where they are now reduced to a few protected areas.

Coke’s Hartebeest occurred widely throughout southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They have lost much of their range, but populations still occur in the Serengeti and Tarangire in Tanzania and Tsavo, and the Mara in Kenya.

Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest formerly occurred widely in the miombo woodlands of south-central Africa (probably as far south as KwaZulu-Natal), but now occur mainly in wildlife areas in Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia; they are extinct in Burundi.

Red Hartebeest occur throughout much of southern Africa (and marginally into Angola near the Namibian border), and although much reduced by European colonists, they are now expanding their range again as they have been reintroduced into many protected areas and private game farms (and widely introduced outside their former range).
Countries occurrence:
Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Ethiopia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Mali; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zimbabwe
Possibly extinct:
Regionally extinct:
Algeria; Burundi; Egypt; Gambia; Israel; Jordan; Lesotho; Libya; Morocco; Somalia; Tunisia
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):4000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:East (1999) estimated the total populations of Hartebeest at about 362,000 animals (including Lichtenstein's). However, this total is clearly influenced by the number of surviving Red Hartebeest in southern Africa, which East (1999) estimated to number about 130,000 (with 40% on private land and 25% in protected areas). In contrast, less than 800 Swayne’s Hartebeest survive in Ethiopia, with the overwhelming majority of the population in the Senkele sanctuary and Mazie N.P. (Refera 2005). Estimates of population size for the remaining subspecies were: 36,000 Western Hartebeest (>95% in and around protected areas); 70,000 Lelwel (about 40% in protected areas); 3,500 Kenya hartebeest (6% in protected areas and most of the rest on ranchland); 82,000 Lichtenstein's Hartebeest; and 42,000 Coke’s Hartebeest (about 70% in protected areas). The surviving number of Tora Hartebeest (if any) is unknown. Lelwel Hartebeest may have undergone a major decline since the 1980s, when its total numbers were estimated to be >285,000, mainly in CAR and southern Sudan (East 1999). Recent survey work conducted in the dry season estimated totals of 1,070 and 115 animals for Southern N.P. and Boma N.P., respectively (Fay et al. 2007); the latter is a significant decline from the more than 50,000 animals estimated in the dry season of 1980 by Fryxell (1980).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:More tolerant of woodland areas and high grass than other alcelaphines, Hartebeest prefer the edge to the middle of open plains; for example, in open areas such as the grassland of the Serengeti N.P. in Tanzania, they are typically found around the edge of woodland (Estes 1991, Gosling and Capellini 2013). They thus appear to be an edge or ecotone species (Booth 1985), generally avoiding more closed woodland. They have been recorded to 4,000 m on Mt Kenya (Young and Evans 1993). Almost exclusively grazers, Hartebeests feed selectively in medium-height grassland; they are less water dependent than other alcelaphines, but nonetheless dependent on the availability of surface drinking water.
Generation Length (years):7.5

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The Hartebeest is hunted for food and sport and are particularly valued for their high-quality meat (Gosling and Capellini 2013). As the bushmeat trade escalates out of control, partly fuelled by the increase in modern guns, many Hartebeest populations are being hunted to extinction, although the use and trade of Red Hartebeest appears to be sustainable and the species is in fact increasing (Gosling and Capellini 2013).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Hartebeest have decreased markedly in numbers across their range, and their distribution has been increasingly fragmented, as a result of over-hunting for meat and the expansion of settlement and livestock. As has already occurred over much of the rest of the species’ former range, some key populations are currently decreasing because of poaching, and/or other factors such as drought and disease in some cases. In Comoé N.P., for example, numbers declined by 60% from 18,300 in 1984 to an estimated 5,200 in 1998 (Fischer and Linsenmair 2001). The distributions of most Hartebeest subspecies are likely to become increasingly fragmented until they are confined to those areas where there is effective control of poaching and encroachment by livestock and settlement.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The largest numbers of the more abundant subspecies occur in the following areas: Western Hartebeest: Niokolo-Koba (Senegal) - although this population declined by half in the 1990s alone, Comoé N. P. (Côte d’Ivoire) - although as noted this population also declined by 60% between 1984 and 1998 (Fischer and Linsenmair 2001), Nazinga and Diefoula (Burkina Faso), Mole (Ghana), Pendjari (Benin) and the national parks and hunting zones of North Province (Cameroon); Lelwel: Zakouma and eastern Salamat (Chad), Manovo-Gounda-St. Floris and Sangba (Central African Republic), Garamba (Congo-Kinshasa), Mago-Murule (Ethiopia) and Murchison Falls (Uganda); Coke’s Hartebeest: Tsavo, Masai Mara, Kajiado and coastal hinterland (Kenya) and Serengeti, Tarangire and Sadani (Tanzania); Lichtenstein's Hartebeest: Selous ecosystem, Moyowosi-Kigosi, Ugalla River, Katavi-Rukwa and Ruaha-Rungwa-Kisigo (Tanzania) and in Kafue National Park and the Luangwa Valley (Zambia); Red Hartebeest: private farmland (Namibia), central and south-western protected areas and adjoining rangelands (Botswana) and protected areas and private farmland (South Africa) (East 1999, Gosling and Capellini 2013)

Swayne's Hartebeest are confined entirely to three protected areas: Senkele Wildlife Sanctuary, Nech Sar N.P.,  and Mazie N.P. (Gosling and Capellini 2013); the survival of Swayne’s in Ethiopia depends on improved protection of these remaining populations. Surveys are urgently required to determine the presence, distribution and status of the Tora Hartebeest in areas such as western Eritrea, as a precursor to the development and implementation of protective measures.

Although Hartebeest are present in captivity, no individuals of Swayne’s and Tora Hartebeests are held in captivity .

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Alcelaphus buselaphus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T811A50181009. . Downloaded on 16 August 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided