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Tsessebe

Considered by many to one of the “funniest looking” animals the Tsessebe are nonetheless the fastest antelope, able to run at speeds up to fifty miles per hour.

It is only fitting that this very strange looking antelope be saddled with such a strange sounding name. The name is derived from the Tswana name, “tshesebe”.

The tsessebe is larger and somewhat different in appearance than the other two animals of the genus (blesbok and bontebok). It is most closely related to the topi, korrigum, coastal topi and tiang (all subspecies of Damaliscus lunatus), and the bangweulu tsessebe and bontebok in the same genus.

Both sexes carry horns which are more splayed, and are one of the most difficult animals to sex. A black (rather than a white) blaze marks the face. Darkish brown in color, there is a characteristic shoulder hump. While they appear to be ungainly, they are very fleet of foot and can run at speed for some distance.

Highly territorial, he will stand on an anthill with head raised threatening all rivals and will fight on his knees with sweeping horns.  Other territorial behaviour includes moving in erect posture, high-stepping, defecating in a crouch stance, ground-horning from a kneeling position, mud packing, shoulder-wiping, and grunting. The most important aggressive display of territorial dominance is in the horning of the ground. Another far more curious form of territory marking is through the anointing of their foreheads and horns with secretions from glands near their eyes. Tsessebe accomplish this by inserting grass stems into their preorbital glands to coat them with secretion, then waving it around, letting the secretions fall onto their heads and horns. This process is not as commonly seen as ground-horning, nor is its purpose as well known.

Several of their behaviours strike scientists as peculiar. One such behaviour is the habit of sleeping tsessebe to rest their mouths on the ground with their horns sticking straight up into the air. Male tsessebe have also been observed standing in parallel ranks with their eyes closed, bobbing their heads back and forth. These habits are peculiar because scientists have yet to find a proper explanation for their purposes or functions.

When hunting tsessebe in Africa, a hunter needs to rely on the Professional Hunter (PH) to identify the proper animal to harvest. Because the tsessebe is mostly found on the African plains, shots may have to be long.  A careful stalk should get the hunter close enough to take a rest and execute a shot.  Tsessebe are wary animals, though, and if they see the hunter approaching, they can just walk away moving just slightly faster than the approaching hunter.  A flat shooting rifle is highly recommended for hunting tsessebe in Africa.  Minimum caliber should be .270.  A better choice for hunting tsessebe in Africa is one of the fast .30 magnums, like the .300 Winchester Magnum, with a 180-grain bullet.