Tragelaphus is a genus of medium- to large-sized spiral-horned antelopes. It contains several species of bovine, all of which are relatively antelope-like. Species in this genus tend to be large sized, lightly built, have long necks and considerable sexual dimorphism. Elands, including the common eland (Taurotragus oryx), are embedded within this genus meaning that Taurotragus must be subsumed into Tragelaphus to avoid paraphyly. Alternatively, Taurotragus could be maintained as a separate genus, if the nyala and the lesser kudu are relocated to their own monospecific genera: respectively, Nyala and Ammelaphus. Other generic synonyms include Strepsiceros (which applies to T. strepsiceros) and Boocercus (for T. eurycerus).[1] The name "Tragelaphus" comes from the mythical tragelaph.

Tragelaphus strepsiceros -Chobe River front, Botswana-8.jpg
An adult male greater kudu by the Chobe River, Botswana
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Tribe: Tragelaphini
Genus: Tragelaphus
(Blainville, 1816)
Type species
Antilope sylvatica
Sparrman, 1780

Tragelaphus angasii
Tragelaphus buxtoni
Tragelaphus eurycerus
Tragelaphus imberbis
Tragelaphus scriptus
Tragelaphus spekeii
Tragelaphus strepsiceros
Tragelaphus sylvaticus

Taxonomy and phylogenyEdit

Giant eland

Common eland

Greater kudu

Mountain nyala



Common bushbuck


Lesser kudu

Phylogenetic relationships in Tragelaphus from combined analysis of all molecular data (Willows-Munro 2005)

Tragelaphus /trəˈɛləfəs/ is a genus in the tribe Tragelaphini and the family Bovidae. The genus authority is the French zoologist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, who first mentioned it in the journal Bulletin des Sciences, par la Société Philomatique in 1816.[2] The name is not of modern scientific invention, but comes from ancient Greek τραγέλαφος (tragélaphos), from τράγος (trágos), meaning a "male goat", and ἔλαφος (élaphos), meaning a "deer".[3]

Extant speciesEdit

It is generally treated as eight species, namely:[citation needed].

Male Female Common Name Scientific name Distribution
    Bongo Tragelaphus eurycerus Kenya
    Greater kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros eastern and southern Africa
    Cape bushbuck Tragelaphus sylvaticus Cape in South Africa to Angola and Zambia and up the eastern part of Africa to Ethiopia and Somalia.
    Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus distributed from Senegal and southern Mauritania across the Sahel, east to Ethiopia, and south to Angola and the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    Lesser kudu Tragelaphus imberbis Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda
    Mountain nyala Tragelaphus buxtoni central Ethiopia.
    Nyala Tragelaphus angasii Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
    Sitatunga Tragelaphus spekii Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, parts of Southern Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Ghana, Botswana, Rwanda, Zambia, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

An alternative classification, supported by genetic data, would recognise 11 species in five groups which could be treated as subgenera or full genera: (i) Nyala for T. angasii; (ii) Ammelaphus for T. imberbis; (iii) Taurotragus for the two elands (T. oryx and T. derbianus); (iv) Strepsiceros for T. strepsiceros and (v) Tragelaphus restricted to T. buxtoni, T. spekei, T. scriptus, T. sylvaticus (Imbabala - separated from a polyphyletic T. scriptus) and T. eurycerus. In terms of divergence time estimates, a 2006 study showed that core Tragelaphus (now known to excude T. angasii and T. imberbis) diverged from Taurotragus (elands) towards the end of the Late Miocene.[4]


  1. ^ Integrated Taxonomic Information System
  2. ^ Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 697. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. ^ "Tragelaphus". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  4. ^ Ropiquet, A. (2006). "Etude des radiations adaptatives au sein des Antilopinae (Mammalia, Bovidae)". Ph.D. Thesis, Université Paris. 6 (1–247).