Horn growth characteristics of sable antelope (Hippotragus niger niger) in South Africa

Author: C.A. Shepstone, P.C. Lubout, J.H.C. Van Zyl, L.C. Hoffman & G.F. Jordaan
Year: 2022
Issue: 3
Volume: 52
Page: 374 - 382

A study of horn growth characteristics of sable antelope in South Africa investigated the environmental effects of sex, calving year and season on horn development for animals up to 50 months old. Horn growth characteristics were assessed in the age categories of 0 to 15, 15.1 to 36, and 36.1 to 50 months. The growth rate (cm/day) of horn length differed significantly between male and female sable antelope in all age categories. The horns of males grew by 0.89 cm/day and females by 0.68 cm/day between 0 and 15 months. Between 15 and 36 months, horn growth was 0.079 cm/day for males and 0.042 cm/day for females. Between 36 and 50 months horn growth was 0.044 cm/day for males and 0.015 cm/day for females. The base circumference differed significantly between the sexes only between 0 and 15 months, when it was 0.026 cm for males and 0.014 cm for females. The number of horn rings did not differ between sexes. Thus, there was rapid initial growth for both males and females, with the horn growth of females slowing noticeably once they reached sexual maturity. Supplemental feeding regimes introduced on most farms affected horn growth traits positively, resulting in longer horns at maturity.

Keywords: annulations, basal circumference, horn length, vegetation, wildlife
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