Like many species before it, the bluebuck species breathed its last at the turn of the 18th century. Though this large, beautiful animal was known to be in decline, European settlers to the plains of South Africa hunted this species to extinction. The last known bluebuck was sighted, and summarily killed, in 1800.
The bluebuck had a stature similar to the English workhorse, long and sturdily built. They lacked manes but had long, backward-curving antelope horns, and ears and a tufted tail like a donkey’s. From written descriptions of the bluebuck, we can infer that they may have looked much like two current species of antelope, those being sable and roan. However, as their names imply, bluebucks sported a combination of yellow and black fur covering dark skin, giving the antelope its distinctive bluish coloring. However, the spindly legs of the animal were white, a stark contrast to their brilliant-hued fur. Like most antelopes, male bluebucks boasted quite the stature, weighing in at an excess of 350 pounds. The females were smaller, but that was the only distinction between the genders.
Prior to the influx of European settlers to Africa in the 17th century, the bluebuck was already in trouble. Radical climate change during contemporary ice ages forced the bluebuck into ever-decreasing swaths of grassland. Those grasslands, the only sanctuary for bluebucks, became farmland for colonial settlers. Bluebucks that managed to find new homes were hunted savagely to make way for the pasture animals the settlers brought with them. This combination of decreasing food resources for the megafauna vegetarians and the loss of their habitat signed the death warrant for the bluebuck. It didn’t help that the lifespan of the bluebuck is limited, thought to be around 18 years, with one calf born per year to a doe.
In the end, a variety of factors contributed to the extinction of this species of antelope. From overpopulation of a too-small habitat to the colonial settlers decimating the remaining population, the bluebuck has faded to the annals of time as an animal the human race will never encounter again outside of a museum exhibit. Due to rapid extinction, the four specimens preserved in museums across Europe lack the distinctive coloring that made the Bluebuck so exotic. Given this, even the actual color of this creature, the shade that gave these antelopes their name, is lost to time itself.