Based on Chris and Mathilde Stuart’s book, “Game Animals of the World,” published by African Hunting Gazette, here’s everything hunters need to know about the Bontebok / Blesbok

English: Bontebok / Blesbok
Latin: Damaliscus pygargus
German: Buntbock / Blessbock
French: Blesbok / Bontebok (Antilope bubale)
Spanish: Damaliscos Sudafricanos bontebok / blesbok
Total length: 1,7 – 2m (5.6’– 6.6’)

Tail:30cm- 45cm (11.8’ – 17.7′)
Shoulder Height:
Male 90 cm (3.0’)
Weight: Male bontebok 62 kg (137lb)
Male blesbok 70 kg (154lb)

Although distinct subspecies, both are similar in body form with shoulders standing higher than rump, long heads, and both sexes carry simple, lyre-shaped horns. Horns of bontebok D.p. pygargus are black; front surface of blesbok D.p. phillipsi) horns are straw-coloured to brown. Bontebok has rich, dark-brown coat with a purple gloss, particularly rams, with sides and upper limbs darker. White facial blaze usually unbroken. Buttocks, belly and lower legs are white. Blesbok is overall dull reddish-brown, white belly some white on legs, but rump patch brown and not white. White facial blaze usually broken with brown above eyes.


Bontebok were naturally restricted to the coastal plain of south-western South Africa, but have been widely introduced outside this range, including in game ranches in Namibia. Blesbok were endemic to high grasslands of east-central South Africa and extending marginally into Swaziland and Lesotho. Widely introduced through South Africa and to Namibia. Small numbers introduced to south-east Botswana and Zimbabwean game ranches. Both subspecies huntable in South Africa and Namibia.

Conservation standing

There are now some 3,000 bontebok and at least 250,000 blesbok on conservation areas and game ranches. The trophy hunter should be aware that a fairly large, but unknown, percentage of bontebok / blesbok herds on private game ranches are known, or believed to be, hybrids of the two races. The outfitter or ranch owner should be asked to verify the purity of his stock, especially in the case of bontebok, which has a considerably higher trophy fee. By the end of the nineteenth century the bontebok had been brought to the brink of extinction and was only saved because of the actions of a handful of farmers in the Bredasdorp district of Western Cape Province. They now occur in three national parks, several provincial reserves and a number of privately owned reserves and game ranches in South Africa.


Bontebok in natural range lands occupy Cape heathland (fynbos) where there is short grass. Blesbok occur on open grassland, and both subspecies require access to drinking water.


Both diurnal, but most feed during the cooler hours. Herds often stand facing into the sun with the head held down and with frequent head-nodding. Territorial bontebok rams hold their areas throughout the year, and nursery groups of 6 –10 animals wander freely through territories of several rams. Only during rut does a ram attempt to herd the nursery groups. Small bachelor groups circulate away from ram territories. Blesbok rams hold harem herds of ewes and their young (2 -25) but herd integrity is weaker than is the case with bontebok, and they do not occupy the same home range through the year. During the dry months the smaller herds come together into large mixed groups.


Mating Season: Bontebok rut January mid–March, most lamb September / October: Blesbok rut March – May, lamb November to January but mostly in December

Number of young: 1

Birth weight: 6–7 kg (13,2 – 15, 4 lb)
Sexual maturity: Male 2 – 3 years but breeds later
Female second to third year
Longevity: Captive blesbok 21 years 8 months
Captive bontebok 15 years 7 months

Both are predominantly grazers

Rifles and Ammunition
Suggested Caliber: .243 – .308.
Bullet: Expanding bullet
Sights: Medium-range variable scope.
Hunting Conditions: Expect medium-range shots in open country