Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus)


In the paddock on the left as you approach our new Tropical House on the boardwalk.

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head-body: 140-160 cm

Weight Males 70 kg, females 60 kg

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 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. 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 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.

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Very Happy Day

My 13 year old son and I had a super day out at Marwell today. We are regular visitors, but hadn't been for a while and thought the new tropical centre with the sloth, mouse deer, exotic birds and tiny monkeys was outstanding. We were also very lucky to see nearly… Read full reviewSally, 13th April 2018