hartebeest [key], large African antelope, Alcelaphus bucelaphus. The hartebeest resembles a horse with horns. It has a very long face and a small hump between the shoulders; its coat is fawn or reddish and its ringed horns curve up and inward in a U shape. Most kinds of hartebeest stand about 4 ft (120 cm) at the shoulder and weigh about 400 lb (180 kg). Swift animals of the plains, hartebeests usually live in herds of around a dozen animals and are often found associated with other herd animals, such as zebras, gnus, and gazelles. The hartebeest has several subspecies, distributed through most of Africa. Although these are given different common names (e.g., the kongoni, or Coke's hartebeest, of E Africa), they are quite similar in appearance and behavior and interbreed readily. The N African bubal or bulbul is an extinct subspecies that was known to the Romans and was very numerous until the 19th cent., and Swayne's hartebeest, a small Ethiopian subspecies, is in danger of extinction. The hirola, Beatragus hunteri, an antelope related to the hartebeest, is also known as Hunter's hartebeest; it has a long, narrow face resembling that of the hartebeests. Found on the border of Kenya and Somalia, it is an endangered species. The hirola was formerly classified as a damalisk. The hartebeest is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.
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