Bull: Shoulder height 125 cm; tail 47 cm; mass 150 kg; average horn length 52 cm
Cow: Shoulder height 125 cm; tail 47 cm; mass 120 kg; average horn length 52 cm
High-shouldered, rather awkward-looking antilope with long, pointed head. Body colour fawn to golden-brown, but darker from shoulders down centre of back to rump, particularly in bulls. Rump and upper thighs are paler than rest of body. Black blaze down from of face and black markings on all four legs. Tail is pale at base, with black hair over remainder. Horns in both sexes; those of bull are heavier but both are set close together at the base, curving forwards and out, then twisting in and back.
Open savanna country, but also open woodland. Presence of drinking water is not essential.
Normally in herds numbering from about twenty to several hundred, but occasionally in thousands. Larger groups usually formed at onset of summer rains. In arid areas it will travel great distances in search of fresh grass. Adult bulls are territorial. Harem herds consisting of cows, young animals and a territorial bull occupy the best grazing, with bachlor herds having to make do with what is left. Mostly active by day.
Mainly grasses but also browses.
The name hartebeest was given by the Boers who thought it resembled deer (hert in Dutch).