Common Name: Blesbok

Scientific Name: Damaliscus pygargus

Male blesbok fight to establish their dominance. The way they fight has been described as ‘clash-fighting’. This involves using their head to deliver blows, butting and pushing their opponent, and jumping back between butts.

When moving to feeding areas or watering points, blesbok travel in single file, creating paths.

Fast Facts

  • Status

    Least Concern

  • Size

    Head-body: 140-160 cm

  • Weight

    Males 70 kg, females 60 kg

  • Gestation

    8 months

  • Young


  • Life span

    20 years

Blesbok - Damaliscus pygargus at Marwell Zoo
Blesbok - Damaliscus pygargus at Marwell Zoo
Blesbok - Damaliscus pygargus at Marwell Zoo
Credit Josh Donaldson Blesbok 1
Credit Jason Brown Blesbok 13

In the wild

Blesbok feed almost entirely on grass.

Blesbok are diurnal grazers, which means they spend the mornings and afternoons grazing, seeking rest and shade in the heat of midday and shelter during the evenings.

Blesbok are found in South Africa and have been introduced to Zimbabwe, Namibia and eastern Botswana. They live in grassland areas, and need to live in places where they are able to find water.

Blesbok males fight for access to females. Their fights can be very serious and even result in death. Blesbok calves are able to walk and follow their mothers within half an hour of being born. They are weaned by about 4 months.

The majority of blesbok are on private land, so are protected from predators. However, historically, they would have been hunted by a variety of predators including lions, leopards, spotted hyaenas, African wild dogs and cheetahs.

Blesbok were once found in great numbers in South Africa, but over-hunting by European settlers reduced their numbers to about 2,000 by the late 19th century. Since then they have been protected, and have made an impressive recovery. The vast majority of Blesbok are found on private farmland, and they have been translocated to many parts of the country both within and outside their natural range. Blesbok have also been introduced to privately owned game farms outside their natural range in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Meet Marwell's Blesbok

Meet Marwell's Blesbok

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