The purpose of this report is to provide those interested in antelope conservation with the information currently held by the IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group on the conservation status of each antelope species (and selected subspecies) in sub-Saharan Africa. This species-wide view complements the country-based reports in other recent Antelope Specialist Group publications.
Threats to the survival of antelopes arise fundamentally from the rapid growth of human and livestock populations, and consequent degradation and destruction of natural habitats and excessive offtake by meat hunters. In addition, some parts of Africa are now almost completely devoid of large wild animals because of uncontrolled slaughter during recent civil wars. The wildlife of substantial areas of the sahelo-Saharan zone has been senselessly annihilated by motorised hunting parties.
Key areas have been identified for the conservation of representative antelope communities. These show a high degree of overlap with the conservation requirements of other groups of larger mammals. Most of these areas have been included by African governments in their gazetted protected-area systems, and opportunities for the establishment of major new protected areas are very limited or non-existent in many countries. Hence Africa's key wildlife areas are now generally well defined and there is little point in further debating the adequacy for larger mammals of the existing protected-area network. The key challenge facing antelope conservation in Africa is improvement of the conservation status of identified key areas and populations. At present, levels of protection and management of many of these areas are low or non-existent and their wildlife populations are depleted, in some cases severely. This reflects factors such as lack of political commitment to conservation and declining budgets of government wildlife agencies.