Bluebuck (Hippotragus leucophaeus)
The Bluebuck or blue antelope was a small antelope indigenous to South Africa. The tallest mounted specimen (there are only four) is nearly four feet at the shoulder with horns that are almost two feet long and curved back toward the animal’s body. The Bluebuck’s coat was a uniform grey-blue color with a white belly. The forehead was brown and darker than the face, its ears were shorter and blunter, not tipped with black; and, it had a darker tail tuft and smaller teeth. It also lacked the contrasting black and white patterns seen on the heads of its relatives. Its mane was not as developed and it lacked the black and white patterns seen in its nearest relatives the roan and sable antelopes.
“Discovered” by Europeans in the 17th century, but already uncommon, the Bluebuck’s range was confined to the southwestern cape of South Africa. Its original entire historic range has been estimated to be only 1,700 square miles. The first published mention of the bluebuck is from 1681, and few descriptions of the animal were written while it existed. The few 18th-century illustrations appear to have been based on stuffed specimens. Hunted by European settlers.
Due to the small range of the bluebuck at the time of European settlement of the Cape region of South Africa in the 17th and 18th centuries compared to the much wider area evidenced by fossil remains, it is thought the species was already in decline before this time. The blue antelope was hunted to extinction by European settlers, Hinrich Lichtenstein claimed that the last bluebuck was shot in 1799 or 1800. The antelope was the first large African mammal to become extinct in historical times.