Sharpe's grysboks, Raphicerus sharpei, are constrained south of the equator in central and southern Tanzania to northeastern South Africa.
may be found in a variety of habitats but most often in rocky, hilly country. These animals seem to avoid large areas of grass standing greater than 50 cm tall, and appear to require some shrub thickets and areas with undercover, as are often found in secondary growth forest. Sharpe's grysboks have been documented in areas with little ground cover, though this is abnormal relative to most recorded observations of habitat use. (; ; )
Sharpe's grysboks are small, with a mass of 7 to 16 kg, a height of 45 to 55 cm, a head to body length of 65 to 75 cm, a tail length of 4 to 8cm, and a horn length (males only) of about 5 cm. The largest horn length on record is over twice the normal length, at 10.48 cm. Females of this species are slightly larger than the males, but information on individual ranges was not available. (; ; )
Body color is a rufous to reddish brown broken with speckles of white giving the animal a grizzled appearance. The sides of the face, forehead, upperparts of the muzzle, and outer parts of the limbs are a yellowish-brown color. The belly, underside of the neck, and inside of the legs and ears are a buffy-white. A whitish ring around the eyes extends as a line down the sides of the muzzle to the rhinarium. (; ; )
is easily distinguished from other members of the genus. lacks false hooves as does Raphicerus campestris (steenbok) whereas Raphicerus melanotis (grysbok) has false hooves. The normal tooth formula for Sharpe's grysboks is 0/3 0/1 3/3 3/3. Child and Riney (1964) found only 1 case of abnormal dentition in 121 examined specimens (0.83%) that were from a small area of Southern Rhodesia. The abnormality was found in a female that had upper canines. (; )
- Range mass 7 to 16 kg 15.42 to 35.24 lb
- Range length 65 to 75 cm 25.59 to 29.53 in
Information pertaining to the mating system of the Sharpe's grysboks was not available. However, other members of the genus may be polygynous or pairs may defend territories together. It is likely that these animals are similar to congeners.
can breed throughout the year. Most records show a peak in breeding between November and December. This proposed peak coincides with the start of the spring rains in southern Africa where this species is found. After a gestation of approximately 180 days (ranging from 168 to 210 days) one to two young will be produced. Weaning of the young will occur at 3 months of age and sexual maturity will be reached for both sexes after 6 to 19 months. (; )
- Breeding interval These animals are apparently capable of breeding annually.
- Breeding season can breed throughout the year, but births are timed to coincide largely with the start of the rainy season.
- Range number of offspring 1 to 2
- Range gestation period 5.6 to 7 months
- Average weaning age 3 months
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female) 6 to 19 months
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male) 6 to 19 months
Little information is available on the parental care of this species. As in other mammals, the female provides the bulk of the parental care. Female Sharpe's grysboks will begin weaning young when offspring reach about 3 months of age. At 6 to 19 months of age, offspring will have reached sexual maturity and are already independent. The role of the father in parental care has not been recorded. (; )
- no parental involvement
Information pertaining to the lifespan/longevity of the Sharpe's grysbok was not available.
Sharpe's grysboks are secretive animals, usually spending most of the day lying in thick cover. Their activity is generally nocturnal and solitary. But, although mostly solitary, adult pairs or a female with offspring may be seen throughout the year. (; ; )
Sharpe's grysboks are territorial, usually defending territories alone, although pairs may defend a single territory together. The male territorial fighting is said to be less ritualistic than in most antelopes, simply involving a straight, forward stride into battle, a lowering to the knees and stabbing or meeting of the short horns.
When frightened by a predator, R. sharpei rarely runs, instead lying flat with an outstretched head and neck in thick undercover until a predator may be nearly on top of them. In the chance that may have to run, such fleeing takes place with a deliberate crouch. An animal stays low to the ground. These grysboks are known to use old burrows, especially those of aardvarks, when in search of protection from predators. (; ; )
Due to the secretive nature of this species, habit studies are difficult and therefore, relatively little information is known.
Information pertaining to the home range of was not available.
Communication and Perception
possesses preputial, eye and facial glands that are used in scent-based communication. In addition, these animals use tactile communication in fighting and mating, as well as between mothers and their offspring. Some visual communication may occur, with regard to body posturing, especially during aggressive encounters.
All members of the genus Raphicerus are browsers and grazers. A study conducted in southeastern Zimbabwe by Wilson examined the stomachs of 91 specimens and found that it is predominantly a browser, with browse accounting for 70% of the stomach contents. Sharpe's grysboks will feed on some fruit as well as roots and tubers they unearths with their hooves. They apparently do not require access to free water but, if available, will drink it. (; )
- roots and tubers
- wood, bark, or stems
Sharpe's grysboks usually use thick vegetation and dense undercover to hide from predators. They will use old burrows, especially of aardvarks, as means of evading from predators. (; )
Little information about the ecosystem roles served by the Sharpe's grysboks has been documented. Given its status as a prey species to numerous predators, it is assumed that its role as a food source for carnivorous predators is important. It is likely to affect vegetative growth through its browsing behavior.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Sharpe's grysboks are of positive economic value to humans as they are hunted for meat, hide and sport in many areas throughout the species' range.
- body parts are source of valuable material