What Kinds of African Antelopes Are There?

There are approximately 72 species of antelope found on the African continent. There are many types of antelope found in Africa, ranging from the giant eland, the largest antelope on Earth, to the diminutive royal antelope, the smallest antelope in Africa.

All antelopes are described as ungulates -- hoofed animals -- that are not classified as other members of the family Bovidae. Animals belonging to the Bovidae family include such animals as sheep, goats, water buffalo, bison and cattle.

The approximately 72 species of African antelopes comprise the largest proportion of all antelopes on Earth, and their wide variety resulted from the use of a dustbin taxon to group these ungulates. Antelopes simply did not fit anywhere else. Because of this, antelopes have a wide range of physical and behavioral characteristics, but they share common traits that generally make them appear similar to common deer.

The range of physical and behavioral characteristics across African antelope species is largely due to the different climates, terrain and predators found throughout the continent that require adaptation by individual species. In some species of African antelope, both males and females have horns on their heads. Where larger species of antelope use their long legs and speed to outrun predators like lions and hyenas, the dik-dik, a small antelope that weighs up to 12 pounds and measures up to 16 inches tall, simply hides from sight until the threat leaves.