The hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus), also known as kongoni, is an African antelope. Hartebeest has eight sub-species of which one is entirely extinct while others are facing imminent danger. Kenya is a home of Coke’s (Alcelaphus buselaphus cokii) and Lewel’s hartebeests (Alcelaphus buselaphus lelwel), which have cross-bred producing Jackson’s species , whose numbers are also declining. In Kenya, the Lewel hartebeest subspecies is now primarily restricted to Laikipia County were only about 1,000 individuals remain. The conservation status of Coke’s hartebeest falls under least concerned and the numbers are noted to be decreasing while the Lewel hartebeest is categorized as Endangered. The numbers, according to the IUCN red list, is also in the decline.
The Bubal hartebeest, which was majorly found within the North of Sahara desert, was declared extinct in 1994 by the IUCN while the Tora hartebeest has been classified under Critically endangered species, meaning it faces very high risk of extinction.The hartebeest was formerly widespread in Africa, but populations have undergone drastic decline due to habitat destruction, hunting, human settlement, and competition with livestock for food. Each of the eight subspecies of the hartebeest has a different conservation status. The Bubal hartebeest was declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1994. The hartebeest is extinct in Algeria, Egypt, Lesotho, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, and Tunisia.
A large antelope, the hartebeest stands just over 1 m at the shoulder, and has a typical head-and-body length of 200 to 250 cm. The weight ranges from 100 to 200 kg. It has a particularly elongated forehead and oddly shaped horns, short neck, and pointed ears. Its legs, which often have black markings, are unusually long. Both sexes of all subspecies have horns, with those of females being more slender. Horns can reach lengths of 45–70 cm. Apart from its long face, the large chest and the sharply sloping back differentiate the hartebeest from other antelopes.
Gregarious animals, hartebeest form herds of 20 to 300 individuals. They are very alert and non-aggressive. They are primarily grazers, with their diets consisting mainly of grasses. The lifespan is 12 to 15 years.Inhabiting dry savannas and wooded grasslands, hartebeest often move to more arid places after rainfall. They have been reported from altitudes on Mount Kenya up to 4,000 m.