Antelopes reach sexual maturity quickly. The smallest antelope species are ready to breed when just 6 months old, and the largest only need 3 or 4 years to reach sexual maturity.
Some species of antelope can breed at any time of the year, but most have breeding seasons that coincide with the changing seasons. This timing ensures that young are born when food is plentiful.
Antelope courtship and reproduction
Courtship and mating behavior in antelopes varies. Dik-diks pair up for life, but in most herd-forming species, courtship begins with a protracted contest between adult males as they compete to gather as many females as they can. In some species males claim a territory that overlaps the territories of several females. In other species, such as the black buck, males fight for control of a small courtship arena, known as a lek. Males who successfully hold their ground at the center of the lek mate with many females, while those on the outskirts of the lek are ignored by females.
A newborn calf depends almost entirely on its mother for survival. In antelopes that form permanent pairs, such as duikers and klipspringers, the male may defend the calf from predator attack, but in most species there is no permanent pair bond, and the female brings up the calf on her own.