ASG’s remit covers all the species usually considered as antelopes, though the term ‘antelope’ is not taxonomically very precise. For example, the Tragelaphines (elands, kudus, etc.) are taxonomically close to wild cattle and Tibetan antelope or chiru (Pantholops hodgsoni) appears to be a distant relative of the Caprinae.
There are 91 ‘antelopes’ as assessed on the IUCN Red List, three of which are Extinct: Bluebuck (Hippotragus leucophaeus), Queen of Sheba’s gazelle (Gazella bilkis) and Saudi gazelle (Gazella saudiya), leaving 88 extant species. Furthermore, the type specimen of Arabian gazelle (Gazella arabica) was recently shown to be misidentified, so this taxon becomes invalid and some doubts over the validity of red gazelle (Eudorcas rufina) have also been expressed. Several proposed taxonomic changes to antelopes are under consideration: some of these will be reflected in the 2015 Red List assessments. Our Taxonomy Position Statement is available here.
In addition, to Tibetan antelope, ASG looks after some species that would not otherwise be covered by an IUCN Specialist Group. These are: pronghorn (Antilope americana), water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and wild camel (Camelus ferus) - see Wild Camel Protection Foundation www.wildcamels.com). Until recently, giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) and okapi (Okapia johnstoni) were also part of ASG but now have their own specialist group (www.okapisg.zslsites.org).
An African Buffalo Interest Group (AfBIG) was set up within ASG in 2014 and will launch its own website soon.
More than a quarter of antelope species are threatened with global extinction!
The conservation status of species monitored by the Antelope Specialist Group (SSC/IUCN):
Out of the 90 species of antelopes existing in the world, 24 species are threatened with extinction.
Species population trends (figure)
- Only springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) and black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) show increasing populations;
- Populations are stable in 33% of antelope species;
- However, populations are decreasing in 61% of the antelope species!
Species Conservation Status (figure)
Nearly 70% of antelope species are classified as ‘Near Threatened’ or ‘Least Concern’, i.e. they are not currently threatened with extinction;
However, 27% are threatened, including:
- 10 'Vulnerable' antelope species;
- 8 'Endangered' antelope species;
- and 5 antelope species are classified as ‘Critically Endangered’:
- Addax (Addax nasomaculatus);
- Hirola (Beatragus hunteri);
- Ader’s duiker (Cephalophus adersi);
- Dama gazelle (Nanger dama);
- Saiga (Saiga tatarica).
- The scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) is already extinct in the wild.
Sub-species Conservation Status
The global situation is worse when considering the 49 sub-species of antelopes which have been assessed; with almost half threatened with extinction, including:
- 12 sub-species classified as 'Vulnerable';
- 6 sub-species classified as 'Endangered';
- and 6 sub-species that are classified as ‘Critically Endangered’:
- Tora hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus spp. tora);
- Giant sable antelope (Hippotragus niger ssp. variani);
- Upemba lechwe (Kobus leche spp. anselli);
- Saiga (Saiga tatarica spp. tatarica);
- Western giant eland (Tragelaphus derbianus spp. derbianus);
- Mountain bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus spp. isaaci).
Of the 5 non-antelope species monitored by the ASG both the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus; ‘Critically Endangered’) and the Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii; ‘Endangered’) are threatened with extinction.
A complete taxonomic list with detailed information is available in the Antelope Database.