damalisk (dămˈəlĭskˌ) [key], name for African antelopes of the genus Damaliscus, closely related to the hartebeest. Damalisks are slenderly built and rather horselike in form; they are common grazing animals of the African grasslands. They vary in color from deep reddish brown to tan; many have black markings on the face and body. The horns sweep back, up, and inward, in the form of a lyre. Different common names are applied to the different species and races. The sassaby, Damaliscus lunatus, is a large damalisk, standing nearly 4 ft (120 cm) at the shoulder; it is found in N South Africa. Blesbok and bontebok are names for the two races of the small S African damalisk, D. dorcas; both stand under 31/2 ft (105 cm) tall and are deep red with white patches on the face and rump. Both the blesbok and the bontebok are extinct in the wild but are preserved on farms and in parks. The three races of D. korrigum, found in E, central, and W Africa, are known respectively as the tiang, topi, and korrigum. A rare damalisk species, D. hunteri, is known as Hunter's hartebeest; its long, narrow face resembles that of the true hartebeests. It is now restricted to a small area of Kenya and Somalia. Damalisks are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.