ANTELOPE WILDLIFE What's in a Name? The name antelope derives from a Greek word meaning " brightness of eye" — a description particularly apt in the case of the enchanting, Bambi- like dwarf gazelles. Today the name applies to hoofed, even- toed, cud- chewing animals with horns that are hollow and never shed ( unlike those of deer). The horns are carried by all male antelope and by does in about half the species. The hoofs of antelope are centrally split, pushed forward to raise the animal on to " tiptoe", and hardened to withstand pounding while running. Proportionally, those of the Sitatunga are the longest ( up to 18cm), the two halves splaying wide to spread the animal's weight and enable it to travel over mud and reed beds. Addax also spread hoofs for support on soft desert sands. A number of antelope species have elongated muzzles, which are an aid to cropping short grass 128 msafiri Some accelerate to unexpected speeds; others survive months without drinking; all are beautiful to U nbelievable as it may seem, there are around 80 distinct species of antelope in Africa and about the same number again of subspecies. Although often overlooked in favour of the more glamorous Big Five on safari- goers' wish- lists, these sensitive- seeming animals prove irresistibly charming when actually encountered in the wild. Their exquisite horns and markings, alert watchfulness and athletic pronking can be hypnotically beautiful. Short shrift should be given to people who groan, when on safari, " Not another impala!" On the contrary, even the commonest species of antelope deserve appreciation. The bush would seem desolate without them.