Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Blesbok calf. The latest arrival was born to mother Ariel and father Aurthur on May 28.
For the first few weeks after the calf’s birth, keepers gave Ariel and her calf time to bond. They recently learned that the calf is a female and have named her Betty Bantu, after the African Bantu tribe. She is the 11th Blesbok calf to be born at the zoo.
Blesbok live on the open grasslands of South Africa. They get their name from the word ‘bles,’ which means ‘blaze’ in Afrikaans, a reference to the very broad white marking on the face. Both males and females have horns which can be up to 15 inches long.
When European settlers arrived in what is now South Africa in the 17th century, Blesbok were so plentiful that the herds were said to stretch as far as the eye could see. But by the 19th century, after decades of being hunted for their skin and meat, Blesbok faced extinction.
Protections were put in place to save the Blesbok, which is now thriving in the wild and is no longer listed as Endangered. The Blesbok’s story shows that conservation efforts can have a happy ending.
See more photos of Betty Bantu below.