An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Bovidae
          Subfamily: Antilopinae
            Genus: Dorcatragus

Dorcatragus megalotis



Dorcatragus megalotis [Menges, 1894].  
Citation: Zool. Anz., 17:130.
Type locality: Somalia, Hekebo Plateau, 35 mi (56 km) SW of Berbera.

General Characteristics

Body Length: 80-86 cm / 2.6-2.8 ft.
Shoulder Height: 50-60 cm / 1.6-2 ft.
Tail Length: 6-7.5 cm / 2.4-3 in.
Weight: 9-11.5 kg / 20-25 lb.

The coarse coat is a reddish grey on top, while the underparts are white.  Between these sections of colour is a dark band which extends along each side from the elbow to the rear leg.  The fawn-coloured legs are exceedingly long and slender.  The yellowish red head is accentuated with black eyelids and white rings around the eyes.  However, the most prominent feature of the beira is its ears, which grow 15 cm / 6 inches long and 7.5 cm / 3 inches wide.  The insides of the ears are covered with a layer of white hair.  The tail is bushy.  The horns, borne only by males, are straight spikes which rise vertically from near the sides of the ears and grow 7.5-10 cm / 3-4 inches long.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 6 months.
Young per Birth: 1

Births have only been recorded in April, at the height of the rains.

Ecology and Behavior

Like most antelope, the majority of the beira's activity occurs in the morning and evening, while at midday it rests.  Beira are exceptionally wary, and are alerted to the slightest disturbance by their large ears.  When startled they move off with great speed across the loose stones, bounding from rock to rock in a goat-like fashion on steeper, more secure territory.  Beira are adapted to a dry habitat, obtaining all needed water from its food supply.

Family group: Pairs or small parties with a single male.  Larger groups are probably meetings between families.
Diet: Mainly leaves of bushes, also grasses.
Main Predators: Lion and leopard where existent, caracal, hyena, and jackal.


Stony hills and dry plateaus in northern Somalia, Djibouti, and eastern Ethiopia.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

The beira is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (1996).


Beira is from behra, the Somali name for this antelope.  Dorkas (Greek) a gazelle or antelope; tragos (Greek) a he-goat.  Megas (Greek) big; ous (Greek), genitive otos, the ear: a reference to the huge ears.

Literature Cited

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology).  1998.  Dorcatragus megalotis.  In African Mammals Databank - A Databank for the Conservation and Management of the African Mammals Vol 1 and 2. Bruxelles: European Commission Directorate. Available online at

Kingdon, J.  1997.  The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals.  Academic Press, London and New York: NaturalWorld.

Nowak, R. M. [editor]. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Walther, F. R. 1990.  Duikers and Dwarf Antelope.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Edited by S. P. Parker.  New York: McGraw-Hill.  Volume 5, pp. 325-343.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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