Top Eight Antelopes of Kenya


They’re colourful, come in a variety of sizes and show true diversity and imagination with their head gear.  Scan any piece of a Kenyan wilderness expanse, and chances are you’ll spot one of them in the frame.

Mostly busy feeding, they dot the savannah with their northward horns and bony legs as sitting ducks for beautiful portraiture or behavioural documentation, even as most Kenya visitors turn them a Nelson’s eye and pass them by in search of the more ‘charismatic’ Big Five.

They’re the unsung beauties of the bush and the grassland.  They’re the antelopes of Kenya.

With nearly 90 species in Africa, dozens of which are found in Kenya alone, the only way you can miss them is if you haven’t visited the bush veld.  I didn’t, and saw eight of them.  And here they are.

1. Kirk’s Dik-dik
Madoqua kirkii

With a name as short as itself, the dik-dik shows that cute-cute things come in small-small packages.

Dik-dik in Masai Mara, Kenya - © Santosh Saligram
2. Thomson’s Gazelle
Eudorcas thomsonii

Bearing the dubious privilege of being the cheetah’s favourite dinner is a crown hard to wear heavily on the head. That’s why the Thomson’s gazelle has thin, short horns, long legs and a brilliant ability to change direction often and abruptly to try and remain away from its hunter’s plate.





3. Impala
Aepyceros melampus

Made famous by Chevrolet with cars named after it featuring prominently in Hindi movies of the yesteryear, the impala has elegance that exceeds that of the automobile and can run almost as fast too.

Male impala in back light in Masai Mara, Kenya - © Santosh Saligram


Male impala smelling, Masai Mara, © Santosh Saligram


4. Waterbuck
Kobus ellipsiprymnus
Furry and at most times cute, waterbuck spend a significant amount of time on ground too unlike their name suggests, especially bucking up their defences in the wake of a perceived threat.  There are two subspecies found in East Africa, differentiated, curiously, by their rump design.  The common species has a white ring on its buttocks, while the Defassa type, as seen here, just has a much less exotic patch.
Young Defassa waterbuck, Lake Nakuru, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram
Male Defassa waterbuck, Lake Nakuru, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram


5. Topi
Damaliscus korrigum

Looking like a goat that overgrew its ambition and eventually became the size of an ass, the topi is a fascinating animal that although looks too serious for its own good at most times, reveals a playful side when unmolested by a predator.

Topi at Masai Mara, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram
Topis at Masai Mara, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram
Topi in back light at Masai Mara, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram


Topis at Masai Mara, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram


6. Coke’s Hartebeest
Alcelaphus buselaphus cokii
Easily mistaken in silhouette for its more famous cousin, the wildebeest, the hartebeest has a lighter skin tone, a pair of horns designed with more flourish, and much more easily palatable looks than the Serengeti’s most populous antelope.
Coke's hartebeest in Masai Mara, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram
Coke's hartebeest in back light in Masai Mara, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram


7. Wildebeest
Connochaetes taurinus
Popularly believed to have been “assembled” from the leftover spare parts of other animals and less popularly known as the gnu due to the sound it makes, this much-ridiculed animal with a herd mentality and a vague Dutch name fully lives up to its unenviable cosmetic reputation with its bizarre looks.  But excelling at crossing raging rivers while staying away from the welcoming jaws of deadly crocodiles twice a year, it knows a thing or two about life and death, and about survival and loss.  And thus deserves our respect.
Blue wildebeest in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram


8. Common Eland
Taurotragus oryx


Dwarfed only by the giant eland, the common eland is the second largest antelope on African soil, and one of the best looking too, although this is not obvious in the only good picture I managed during my maiden trip to Kenya in June 2012.

But until I can ‘front-end’ another herd of eland on a future trip, this image will remind me to chase after this and many more antelope species I’m yet to see on the great continent.


Common eland in Masai Mara, Kenya. © Santosh Saligram


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Teju Teju says:

    Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking. Big Data Hadoop Online Training


  2. Jagannath Bag says:

    Sitting in the comfort of the human abode , looking at the beautiful gifts of nature ..feeling lucky .


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