Bonteboks, like this one on display in the Hall of African Wildlife, are the rarest antelopes in the world. In Afrikaans, the word bontebok means “colorful antelope,” which is a reference to their white face patches.
Bonteboks were aggressively hunted in the early 1800s to the point of near extinction. By the 1930s, there were only 17 bonteboks in the entire world that all lived on a family farm. Thanks to the work of conservationists and the South African government, there are now about 3,000 bontebocks in zoos, farms, and preserves around the world.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) confiscated this bontebok taxidermy mount in 2011 in Los Angeles from a shipment that came from South Africa because they suspected it was collected illegally.
Due to our museum’s well-known collection of African mammals, USFWS contacted curators and asked if they would accept the donation and tell the story of bontebok. With the help of members of the Carnegie Discoverers, the museum happily accepted.