In the case of the Bubal Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus), it can be hard to determine whether it is a separate species. It is considered by some authorities to be a racial variation of an already common species; by others, it is considered quite distinct. In any case, the geographical range and historical identity of this form were well-defined. The strange name hartebeest is used to describe several closely related species found throughout Africa. “Hert” means deer in Afrikaans, and the beast (as one might expect means beast).
These strange-looking animals must have been confusing to the Boer settlers who named them. Bubal may be derived from Greek and means “gazelle” or “ox” and refers only to this particular hartebeest. Among the hartebeest species, only the bubal occurs north of the Sahara; the rest are strictly sub-Saharan.
They once occupied a wide area between Algeria and Morocco in the west and Egypt in the east. The ancients were well acquainted with Bubal Hartebeests because of their geographical distribution. Several Egyptian tombs have been found with their horns, raising the possibility that these animals were domesticated and sacrificed.
Roman mosaics depict them at Hippo Regius (the modern city of Annaba in Algeria), and Aristotle, Aeschylus, and Pliny mention them. Their name is even mentioned in the Old Testament as “yahchmur” giving rise to the idea that they lived in Palestine. Zoos kept several of these hartebeests at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The only one photographed appears to be the only one. From 1883 to 1897, this female lived at London Zoo.
Lewis Medland (1845–1914) took the picture, probably in 1895. The same individual, however, served as the model for a famous wildlife painting by Joseph Wolf (1820–1899) that was reproduced as a lithograph by his friend Joseph Smit (1836–1929) and published by PL Sclater and Oldfield Thomas (1894–1900) in a celebrated four-volume tome titled The Book of Antelopes (1894–1900).
During 1906 and 1907, another individual was at the same zoo, but his portrait appears to have not been taken. This animal may well be the last of its kind, as it was not found in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Sadly, they passed away on November 9th, 1923. Afterward, there are only unsubstantiated rumors that a few hartebeests remained in the wild. In 1925, there may have been a shooting in Algeria or Morocco. In remote areas of the Atlas Mountains, others may have been seen.
In historical times, the Bubal Hartebeest range extended as far as Morocco and Algeria, but by the 19th century, it had been reduced to these two countries. As a species, it was primarily attacked by Barbary Lions, which are now extinct in the wild. The human race became an even more unforgiving adversary, and Alcelaphus buselaphus reign of terror culminated in massacres in the 19th century. Herds were mowed down for sport and food by the French army occupying Morocco and Algeria.
In 1917, a herd of Bubal Hartebeests was found somewhere in the Atlas Mountains, which may have been the last herd. The number of them was 15. Only three of them were slaughtered by a single hunter. Read More – Giant Camel – A Camel Extinct 1 Million Years Ago