Hippotragus leucophaeus (Pallas, 1766:4)

Bluebuck, Blue antelope, Blaauwbok, Blaubok, Etaac (Krefft, 1864:97), Blaue bock (Gray, 1843:158)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Ægocerus leucophæus (Pallas, 1766:4); Antilope leucophaea Pallas, 1766:4; Antilope leucophæa Pallas, 1766:4 (original combination); (See Krefft, 1864:97-98 for a large list)


Conservation Status


Last record: 1799?; 1800 (Goodwin & Goodwin, 1973; Gippoliti et al. 2017); 1858 (unconfirmed; Groves & Grubb, 2011:198)

IUCN status: Extinct


This species seems to have had a very limited distribution since the last ice age, given the fact that it was hunted to extinction within 80 years of it first being described in detail by (Kolb, 1719). Historically it seems to have been restricted to Cape Province, where over-hunting is believed to have driven it extinct. However, for a species hunted so much very little extant material can be assigned to this taxa. Another sad irony in the tale of the Blue Antelope.



Swellendam district, Cape Province/Colony, South Africa


Biology & Ecology




Please note that this entire section will need to be rewritten in light of (Hempel et al., 2021).


According to (Mohr, 1967; Robinson et. al. 1996) the extant material of the Bluebuck consists of a skull ("of dubious provenance"), two sets of horns, and four mounted specimens. However, it seems that (Robinson et. al. 1996) based the hypodigm of Hippotragus leucophaeus solely on (Mohr, 1967), and therefore omitted two possible new specimens discovered since (Mohr, 1967) was published, but before their own paper. Erdbrink (1988) identified a hippotragine skull (ZMA 18.623) as probably belonging to H. leucophaeus (i.e. "Hippotragus cf. leucophaeus") (acknowledgement must also go to Dr. van Bree who first noticed this skull during a review of the collection held by the University of Amsterdam). And (Ozinsky, 1989) reported what are probably another pair of horns (SAM-ZM40759). Rookmaaker (1992) listed and discussed all known specimens.


Krefft (1864) lists a pair of horns in the Australian Museum, Sydney, but as these are not mentioned elsewhere this may simply be an error in taxonomic assignation.


Innumerable sub-fossil remains have also been excavated at various sites in South Africa. For example, (Klein, 1976:77) reports a minimum of 52 sub-fossil individuals from Klasies River Mouth Cave 1 alone.


[b]Extant material (sub-fossil and recent):[/b]


GLAHM Z4884 (skull, see here)

SAM-ZM40759 (pair of horns)

ZMA 18.623 (skull with horns)


[NB: the above list is incomplete]


Ward (1892:140-141) lists and gives measurements for many specimens. Thus because this is in conflict with the small hypodigm as corroborated by all other authors it is likely an error on his part. And judging by the fact that he gives the common name of the species as "Roan Antelope" it seems that he is actually referring to Hippotragus equinus.


Renshaw (1904) mentions specimens that seem to no longer exist, or are untraceable at least.






Original scientific description:

Pallas, Peter Simon. (1766). Miscellanea zoologica quibus novae imprimis atque obscurae ani­malium species describuntur et observationibus iconibusque illustrantur. The Hague, Netherlands: Petrum van Cleef. i­xii + 1-224 pp., pls. 1-14.


Other references:

Bonner, R. (1993). At the hand of man. Peril and hope for Africa’s wildlife. Alfred A. Knopf: New York. 322 pp.

Broom, R. (1949). The extinct blue buck of South Africa. Nature 164: 1097-1098.

van Bruggen, A. C. (1959). Illustrated notes on some extinct South African ungulates. South African Journal of Science 55: 197-200.

Colahan, B.D. 1990. Did the last blue antelope Hippotragus leucophaeus die in the Eastern Orange Free State, South Africa? Mirafra 7(2): 51-52.

Day, David. (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. New York, N.Y.: The Viking Press.

Denman, E. (1957). ‘He tracked down last haunts of the South African Buck that vanished 150 years ago: Earl Denman sheds new light on a mystery of the veld’, [South African] Sunday Times, Sept 22 1957.

Dollmann, J. Guy. (1937). Mammals which have recently become extinct and those on the verge of extinction. J. Soc. Preserv. Fauna Empire n. s. 30: 67-74.

Erdbrink,  D. P. Bosscha. (1988). Protoryx from three localities East of Maragheh, N.  W. Iran.  Proceedings of  the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (B) 91(2):101-159.

Faith, J. Tyler. (2011). Late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions in Southern Africa’s Cape Floral Region. PhD Thesis, George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Faith, J. Tyler. (2014). Late Pleistocene and Holocene mammal extinctions on continental Africa. Earth-Science Reviews 128: 105-121.

Faith, J. Tyler and Thompson, Jessica C. (2013). Fossil evidence for seasonal calving and migration of extinct blue antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus) in southern Africa. Journal of Biogeography 40(11): 2108-2118.

Gippoliti, Spartaco, Cotterill, Fenton P. D., Zinner, Dietmar and Groves, Colin P. (2017). Impacts of taxonomic inertia for the conservation of African ungulate diversity:an overview. Biological Reviews. doi: 10.1111/brv.12335

Goodwin, Harry A. and Goodwin, J. M. (1973). List of mammals which have become extinct or are possibly extinct since 1600. Int. Union Conserv. Nat. Occas. Pap. 8: 1-20.

Gray, John Edward. (1843). List of the specimens of Mammalia in the collection of the British Museum. London: The Trustees, British Museum. xxviii + 216 pp.

Groves, C. P. & Grubb, P. (2011). Ungulate Taxonomy. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Groves, Colin P. and Westwood, C. R. (1995). Skulls of the Blaaubok Hippotragus Leucophaeus. Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 60: 314-318.

Hempel, Elisabeth et al. (2021). Identifying the true number of specimens of the extinct blue antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus). Scientific Reports 11: 2100.

Husson, A. M. and Holthuis, L. B. (1969). On the type of Antilope leucophaea Pallas, 1766, preserved in the collection of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie, Leiden. Zoologische Mededelingen, Leiden, 44(11): 147-157.

Husson, A. M. and Holthuis, L. B. (1975). The earliest figures of the Blaauwbok, Hippotragus leucophaeus (Pallas, 1766) and of the Greater Kudu, Tragelaphus Strepsiceros (Pallas, 1766). Zoologische Mededelingen 49(5): 57-63.

IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. (2008). Hippotragus leucophaeus. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. (http://www.iucnredlist.org). Downloaded on 29 September 2011.

Graham I. H. Kerley, Rebecca Sims-Castley, André F. Boshoff and Richard M. Cowling. (2009). Extinction of the blue antelope Hippotragus leucophaeus: modeling predicts non-viable global population size as the primary driver. Biodiversity and Conservation 18(12): 3235-3242.

Grubb, Peter. (2001). Hippotragus Sundevall, 1845 (Mammalia, Artiodactyla): Proposed Conservation. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. 58: 126-132.

Klein, Richard G. (1974). On the taxonomic status, distribution and ecology of the blue antelope, Hippotragus leucophaeus (Pallas, 1766). Annals of the South African Museum 65: 99-143.

Klein, Richard G. (1976). The mammalian fauna of the Klasies River Mouth sites, southern Cape Province, South Africa. S. Afr. archaeol. Bull. 31: 75-98.

Klein, Richard G. (1978). A preliminary report on the larger mammals from the Boomplaas stone age cave site, Cango Valley, Oudtshoorn District, South Africa. S. Afr. Archaeol. Bull. 33: 66-75.

Klein, R. G. (1983). Palaeoenvironmental implications of Quaternary large mammals in the fynbos region. In: Deacon, H.J., Hendey, Q.B., Lambrechts, J.J.N. (Eds.), Fynbos Palaeoecology: A Preliminary Synthesis, South African National Scientific Programmes Report No 75. Mills Litho, Cape Town, pp. 116-138.

Klein, R. G. (1984). Mammalian extinctions and stone age people in Africa, pp. 553-573. In: Martin, P. S. and Klein, R. G. (eds.). Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press.

Klein, Richard G. (1987). The extinct blue antelope. Sagittarius, Cape Town 2(3): 20-23.

Kolb, P. (1719). Caput Bonae Spei hodiernum. Das ist: vollstandgie Beschreibung des Africanischen Vorgeburges der Guten Hofnung, […] Nurnberg, bey Peter Conrad Monath.

Krefft, Gerard. (1864). Catalogue of Mammalia in the Collection of the Australian Museum. Sydney: Australian Museum.

Loubser, J., Brink, J. and Laurens, G. (1990). Paintings of the extinct blue antelope, Hippotragus leucophaeus, in the Eastern Orange Free State. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 45(152): 106-111. [First page]

Luyt, J., Lee-Thorp, J. A. and Avery, G. (2000). New light on Middle Pleistocene west coast environments from Elandsfontein, Western Cape Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 96: 399-403.

Mohr, Erna. (1967). Der Blaubock, Hippotragus leucophaeus (Pallas, 1766) - Eine Dokumentation. Paul Parey, Hamburg, Germany.

Ozinsky, S. (1989). Rare blue antelope horns found. Sagittarius, Cape Town 4(3): 31.

Pennant, T. (1781). Blue Antelope: Quadrupeds, p66.

van Pletzon-Vos, Liezl et al. (2019). Revisiting Klasies River: a report on the large mammal remains from the Deacon excavations of Klasies River main site, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 74 (211): 127-137.

Renshaw, Graham. (1901). The Blauuwbok (Hippotragus leucophaeus). The Zoologist: a monthly journal of Natural History, (4) 5 (726): 441-448,.

Renshaw, Graham. (1904). Natural History Essays. London: Sherratt & Hughes. xiv + 218 pp. [pp. 38-58]

Renshaw, Graham. (1921).  The blaauwbok (Hippotragus leucophaeus Pall.). Journal of  the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna Empire 1: 24-26.

T. J. Robinson, A. D. Bastos, K. M. Halanych and B. Herzig. (1996). Mitochondrial DNA sequence relationships of the extinct blue antelope Hippotragus leucophaeus. Naturwissenschaften 83(4): 178-182.

Rookmaaker, L. C. (1992). Additions and revisions to the list of specimens of the extinct Blue antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus). Annals of the South African Museum 102(3): 131-141.

Skead, C. J. (2011). Historical incidence of the larger land mammals in the broader Western and Northern Cape. Centre for African Conservation Ecology.Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth.

Skinner, J. D. and Smithers, R. H. N. (1990). The mammals of the southern African Subregion, 2nd edn. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Smithers, R. H. N. (1983). The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

Themudo, GonÇalo Espregueira and Campos, Paula F. (2017). Phylogenetic position of the extinct blue antelope, Hippotragus leucophaeus (Pallas, 1766) (Bovidae: Hippotraginae), based on complete mitochondrial genomes. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx034 [Abstract]

Ward, Rowland. (1892). Horn measurements and weights of the great game of the world: being a record for the use of sportsmen and naturalists. London: The Jungle, 264 pp. [p. 140-141]

van Pletzon-Vos, Liezl et al. (2019). Revisiting Klasies River: a report on the large mammal remains from the Deacon excavations of Klasies River main site, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 74 (211): 127-137.




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