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Scientific Classification

Bovidae is a taxonomic Family of cloven-hooved herbivorous animals. There are almost 140 species of Bovids spread all throughout the world. They are native to all continents but South America, Australia, and Antarctica. Some well know types include gazelles, bison, cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, and water buffalo. Some species of Bovids tend to remain solitary, though many species are part of large groups that include social structures.[1] Bovids are often hunted for skins, meat, or for sport.


Some of the smallest Bovids only weigh about 3 kg and are about the size of an average cat. The larger Bovids are about 2 meters tall and can weigh well over a ton. Some Bovids are thick and broad, such as many bulls or buffalo. All Bovids have a 4 chambered stomach. This enables them to digest food that are normally too low in nutrients for other animals. They use bacteria in their stomach to break down cellulose by fermentation. Their canine teeth are either absent or modified into incisors. Every Bovid has a 2 toed hoof. [2] Some females, and all males have horns. Size and shape among the Bovids range greatly. Some are short and stocky, while other have long slender legs. Their horns are made of a permanent, bony core and covered by a layer of keratin. All Bovids are unguligrade, which means they walk on hoofs. They keep their balance between two toes on each foot. The size of the fibula and ulna on Bovids are very small. [3]


As Bovids age, they become competitive and territorial. A Monogamous pair is a male and female that mate for their entire lives. They both take responsibility in defending territory. It is also common that one male will mate with two or more females. The females will then live alone with their offspring. Male Bovids split up into either territorial, or non-territorial groups. Females share territory with other females. Males compete for mates. The outcome is usually dependent on size and seniority. [4] All African antelopes have only 1 offspring. There is a 4-6 month gestation period for small to average size antelopes, whereas it is 8-9 months for larger species. Bovids must live in an area where food is abundant. This allows them to breed at anytime throughout the year. Bovids that live in an equatorial environment (2 wet seasons and 2 dry seasons) reproduce twice a year. [5]


Impala herd in African habitat

Bovids are not known to live in the South Americas, but are abundant all across Africa. They are not represented in Australia. They are also found across the United States, in most cases being used for meat and skins. They are also located all throughout Europe and Asia, though the majority still reside in Africa. [6] Four subfamilies are found only in Africa. Bovids are most often found in grasslands, scrublands, and deserts. Some are also found in forests, swamps, and mountains. Wherever there is vegetation, there are Bovids ready to graze. Several species of Bovids in Africa have been seen occupying the same spaces. [7]

Endangered Species

There are two species in family Bovidae that are endangered. Bubalus mindorensis, commonly know as the Dwarf Buffalo prefers a forest and grassland type habitat. They are now contained to few remote areas with rough terrain in the Phillipines. It is the most endangered species in family Bovidae. [8] The Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx), the smallest of all Oryx species, is also endangered. The main threat and cause of endangerment for the Arabian oryx is other species of Bovids competing for food. This animal was once on the brink of extinction until a mating program successful reintroduced the animal. [9]


Related References