Hippotragus leucophaeus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Hippotragus leucophaeus (Pallas, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Bluebuck, Blue Antelope
Antilope leucophaeus Pallas, 1766

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-11-30
Assessor(s): Kerley, G. & Child, M.F.
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.
Contributor(s): Hoffmann, M.
The last individual Blue Antelope was shot around 1800, the first African antelope to be hunted to extinction by European settlers (Klein 1974).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Historically the Blue Antelope was endemic to South Africa, where it was confined to a limited area of the southwestern Cape coast and where it was apparently uncommon. The species was first recorded in 1719 by Kolbe, and was described by Pallas in 1766 (Klein 1974) from material of uncertain provenance (Rookmaaker 1989). Its historical distribution is thus based on few records, of which only two can be considered to be reasonably precise (Kerley et al. 2009): Thunberg on 20 January 1774 and Le Vaillant in March/April 1783. An additional record in 1783 provided by Sparrman (1786) much further east at Krakeel River in the Langkloof may reflect a transported skin, given that this location is hundreds of kilometres east of other records. However, although the recent historical range is thought to be bounded by the locations of the Caledon, Swellendam and Bredasdorp, in the Western Cape (Skead 1980, Rookmaaker 1989), archaeological evidence suggests a previously much wider distribution: early in the Last Glacial (70,000–35,000 years before present (ybp)) it occurred on the grasslands of the Cape lowlands, south of the Cape Folded Belt from present day Grahamstown (farm ‘‘Uniondale’’) in the east to the vicinity of Saldanha Bay in the West. A similar distribution has been inferred for the early (ca 10,000 ybp) Holocene (Klein 1974, Cruz-Uribe et al. 2003). During the late Pleistocene (18,000–10,000 ybp), analysis of rock paintings reveal that the species occurred as far north as the eastern parts of South Africa’s Free State Province (Loubser et al. 1990, Plug and Engela 1992, Plug and Badenhorst 2001).
Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
South Africa (Western Cape)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The last individual Blue Antelope was shot around 1800; it was the first African antelope to be hunted to extinction by European settlers (Klein 1974).
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Models based on estimated habitat suitability show that, before the colonists arrived, the range of the Blue Antelope was limited to a single suitable habitat; the Overberg Coastal Renosterveld, which covered ca 4,300 km². Although presently dominated by the unpalatable shrub renosterbos (Elytropappus rhinocerotis), this habitat would have possessed a high grass cover (Themeda triandra, Merxmuellera stricta) (Cowling and Heijnis 2001).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Although habitat loss and hunting played proximate roles in the extinction of the species, hunting merely tipped the species over the extinction edge it was already straddling, as long-term climate change is suspected to have played a more important role by fragmenting and reducing the resilience of the population (Kerley et al. 2009, Tyler Faith and Thompson 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is now Extinct.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:resident 

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.5. Other impacts
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

Bibliography [top]

Cowling, R.M. and Heijnis, C.E. 2001. The identification of Broad Habitat Units as biodiversity entities for systematic conservation planning in the Cape Floristic Region. South African Journal of Botany 67: 15-38.

Cruz-Uribe, K., Klein, R.G., Avery, G., Avery, M., Halkett, D., Hart, T., Milo, R.G., Sampson, V.G. and Volman, T.P. 2003. Excavation of buried late Acheulean (mid-quaternary) land surfaces at Duinefontein 2, Western Capr Province, South Africa. Jounal of Archaeological Science 30: 559-575.

Franklin, I.R. 1980. Evolutionary changes in small populations. In: Soulé, M.E., Wilcox, B.A. (ed.), Conservation Biology. An Evolutionary Ecological Perspective , pp. 135–150 . Sinauer Associates , Sunderland, MA.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-2. Available at: (Accessed: 14 September 2017).

Kerley, G.I., Sims-Castley, R., Boshoff, A.F. and Cowling R.M. 2009. Extinction of the blue antelope Hippotragus leucophaeus: modeling predicts non-viable global population size as the primary driver. Biodiversity and Conservation 18: 3235-3242.

Klein, R.G. 1974. On the taxonomic status, distribution and ecology of the blue antelope, Hippotragus leucophaeus (Pallas, 1766). Annals of the South African Museum 65: 99-143.

Loubser, J., Brink, J. and Laurens, G. 1990. Paintings of the extinct Blue Antelope Hippotragus leucophaeus in the Eastern Orange Free State. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 45: 106-111.

Plug, I. and Badenhorst, S. 2001. The distribution of macromammals in southern Africa over the past 30,000 years. Transvaal Museum, Pretoria.

Plug, I. and Engela, R. 1992. The macrofaunal remains from recent excavations at Rose Cottage Cave, Orange Free State. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 47: 16-25.

Rookmaaker, L.C. 1989. The zoological exploration of southern Africa, 1650-1970. Balkema, Rotterdam.

Skead, C.J. 1980. Historical mammal incidence in the Cape Province: Vol. 1. The Western and Northern Cape. Department of Nature and Environmental Conservation, Cape Tpwn.

Tyler Faith, J. and Thompson, J.C. 2013. Fossil evidence for seasonal calving and migration of extinct blue antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus) in southern Africa. Journal of Biogeography 40: 2108-2118.

Citation: Kerley, G. & Child, M.F. 2017. Hippotragus leucophaeus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T10168A50188573. . Downloaded on 25 April 2018.
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