Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus)


Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head-body: 140-160cm

Weight Males 70kg, females 60kg

Gestation 8 months

Young 1

Life span 20 years

What do I eat?

Blesbok feed almost entirely on grass.

Where do I live?

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


Blesbok males fight for access to females. Their fights can be very serious and even result in death. Young blesbok 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.

Did you know?

Male blesbok fight to establish their dominance. The way they fight has been described as ‘clash-fighting’. This involves use 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.


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We visited Marwell Zoo for the day with a large group of our sheltered housing residents from Portsmouth. It was a super day which all the residents enjoyed. There was something for everyone and a favourite animal for everyone! Residents felt there was so much to see, and lovely facilities on… Read full reviewRachael - Portsmouth Town Court Resident Group, 27th October 2017