Viewpoints - blue antelopes in different cultural contexts
Image © RMNH Naturalis/Kate Foster
Archaeologists have unearthed fragments from settlements existing well before European contact. What did Blue Antelopes and humans make of each other then?
Blue antelopes were first written about by Europeans in 1719 and finally killed out by 1800 - a very short era in the species' lifespan which had, alongside people, occupied the Cape after the last Ice Age. European travellers' descriptions date from the exploration of the Cape of South Africa, with the ascendancy of the Dutch East India Company in the eighteenth century. The small triangle of land in 'Cape Colony' that was the last range of blue antelopes was also one of the first to be settled by farmers of Dutch descent, 'Boers'. Britain gained control in the nineteenth century, not without dispute. European travellers' accounts were absorbed into developing scientific discourses, which now extends to archaeological work about Blue Antelope's distribution across Southern Africa. Scholarly discussion on Hippotragus leucophaeus now includes work originating in South Africa, the US and Australia - at least.
Khoisan culture has been all but silenced, but does knowledge persist of blue antelopes in non-European cultures - perhaps Khoikhoi, Griqua, Xhosa? Who apart from scientists - has named, imagined or depicted Blue Antelopes?
Click on the images and links below to see the works we have found so far:
A link to an African fable: www.sacred-text.com