melanotis (Grysbok, Cape grysbok)
grysbok [Afrikaans]; Greisbock, Kap-Greisbock [German]; grysbok, grysbok du Cap [French]
Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia >
Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates) >
Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost
fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class:
Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia
(terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota >
Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia
> Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals)
> Placentalia (placental mammals) >
Laurasiatheria > Ferungulata > Cetartiodactyla (even-toed ungulates and cetaceans)
> Ruminantia (ruminants) > Family:
Bovidae (antelopes and buffalo) > Subfamily: Antilopinae
Size: Shoulder height 54 cm; weight 10 kg; average horn
length 8 cm.
Dental Formula: I C P M =
A member of the dwarf antelopes, the small Cape grysbok has
a distinctive coat of reddish-brown upperparts clearly flecked with white hairs.
This gives the coat a grey appearance, hence the name “grys”, which is Afrikaans
for grey. The white flecking is not as dense on the flanks and neck. The
underparts are lighter brown then the rest of the coat. The reddish – brown tail
is very short. The very large grey-brown ears have a white fringe on the inner
edge. A pair of black false hooves are situated on the lower leg just above the
fetlock. Males have a pair of small, smooth back-angled, black horns. The
females are slightly larger than the males and hornless. This species could
easily be confused with the Steenbok, but the white flecking on the coat is
Distribution and habitat
The Grysbok is a “Fynbos endemic” being almost entirely
restricted to this vegetation type of the Cape. Only found along a narrow belt
of the south-western and southern Cape coast and adjacent interior. Shelters in
thick scrub-bush and occurs in a variety of habitats from bush-covered dunes to
wooded gorges to mountain slopes. It often occurs along the fringes of
agricultural land where dense cover is provided by adjacent remaining belts of
A wide variety of plant species is included in their
diet, this includes indigenous shrubs and trees and even the invasive Port
Jackson wattle. This antelope is not dependant on free-standing water as it can
obtain its water requirements from the plant material it eats.
Mainly nocturnal but also active in the early morning and
late afternoon and if in a protected environment they can be seen out on cool
and cloudy days. They live singly or in pairs. Males are territorial and
territories are marked using dung piles and secretions from the preorbital gland
in front of the eye and pedal glands on the feet.
Predominantly a browser but it does graze.
After a gestation period of about 180 days, a single lamb
is born. The birth maybe at anytime of the year but most are born in summer from
September to December. Life span: 10 years (maximum).
In the Western Cape the grysbok is considered a nuisance by
fruit and wine farmers, as it eats the young grapes as well as the terminal buds
on the vines and fruit trees. Unfortunately it is a common road casualty
becoming disorientated and trapped by the headlights of cars at night.
Conservation status is regarded as low risk, but the survival of the species is