Obrigado Mr. Alexander van der Bijl!

The incredible story of how the bontebok survived extinction

July 14, 2015

Jaymi Heimbuch


Photo: Mogens Trolle/Shutterstock

For all the many tragic stories of species we have lost and are losing at an escalating rate, there are a handful of inspiring stories of bringing animals back from the very edges of that cliff-drop into history. Within that handful are a select few stories where the species brought back were saved because of their, well, failures. For the bontebok, it is both the humans bent on helping them as well as something simple — the inability to jump — that kept the species safe.

This large South African antelope species was nearly wiped out just two centuries after European settlers landed on the Cape of Good Hope. Between 1650 and the early 1800s, the species was decimated. Only one small herd of bontebok survived, and they lived on the farmland of one Mr. Alexander van der Bijl. Read more.