Discovering the Springbok

The Springbok, with a scientific name of Antidorcas marsupialis, also known as the Springbuck, is South Africa’s national animal. This medium-sized antelope is distributed throughout southern Africa but not in the Kruger National Park. It is simple to recognize a Springbok by its distinctive dark brown stripe along its flank and sloping horns. Males and females both have horns, which is unusual. They’re famed for their “pronking” abilities. While motionless, sprinting, or moving swiftly, they put their heads down and jump. When predators are nearby or during mating displays, they frequently use this 2-meter-high jump to impress their mates.

What is a Springbok?

Pronking or stotting is the typical characteristic of this animal under the family of antelope, which are found in treeless dry plains of southeast Africa. A peculiar feature on the Springbok’s back that it reveals when aroused is a patch of white hair that is ordinarily concealed beneath a skin fold but is erected during a particular sort of jumping, making it a separate genus from the actual gazelle. At 80 kilometers per hour, it can jump 3.5 meters vertically and 15 meters horizontally. Pronking is an Afrikaans word that means “to boast or show off.” Its reddish-tan back and white underbelly are divided by a solid dark fur stripe. Their height ranges from 70 to 87 centimeters, and their horns grow to a maximum of 35 centimeters. The grasses and succulent plants that the Springbok eats help it stay hydrated in its dry environment. Since it doesn’t need to drink water, it can go for years without a drink, but it will drink if it can locate some. 

Predators such as cheetahs prey on the Springbok’s weaker members, such as the young, old, and sick. During the winter, the herds of springboks are smaller and grow in the summer. They are, however, not particularly social creatures, as evidenced by the fact that they groom themselves rather than interact with one another. A single fawn can be born to a female every eight months. Once a year old, male offspring split from their mother’s herd and form “bachelor” herds. Until they give birth, female children stay with their mothers. Millions of springboks made up the largest herds of mammals; however, they have been decimated by human hunting since prehistoric times. Despite this, it is not a “threatened” species and is the only antelope increasing in population.

The Habitat and Lifestyle of Springbok

Although Springbok can thrive in virtually any habitat, it prefers arid plains, short grassweed, shrubs, and a colder interior Plato and Karoo regions. It is common for Springbok to be active at dawn and dusk, although they may also feed throughout the day in cold weather or at night in scorching weather. Springboks prefer to sleep in the shade during the hotter months of the year, but they will also sleep in the open during the cooler months. Matriarchal male and female herds tend to separate during mating season, while females remain in a pack with their young and a few male leaders. Stiff-legged, vertical jumps up to 2 m high, with the head down, hooves bunched, and an arched back, are performed by Springbok when they are terrified or excited. A cheetah or lion can be deterred from its prey if it makes a sudden leap like this. When migrating, Springbok used to create massive herds, sometimes numbering the millions of animals. These were referred to as ‘treks’ or ‘trekbokking.'” However, Springbok may emit a loud snort or a deep bellow to communicate when startled or threatened. They form big herds and travel in large groups. Herds of tens of thousands are used to make the journey. In breeding season, territorial rams will try to keep hordes of ewes and defend them from other rams until they move away from one ram’s territory and graze in another ram’s environment.

Springbok’s Diet

The food they eat varies with the season; in the summer, they eat grass, but in the winter, when water is scarce, they eat flowers and other water-rich plants. It’s not uncommon for these herbivorous antelope to graze and browse simultaneously, especially before morning, when the food is at its tastiest, they gather flowers, seeds, and shrub leaves. Shrubs, young succulents, and grasses are their preferred food sources. Springbok can go without water for long periods, and in extreme situations, they may never drink any water in their entire lives. 

Mating and Breeding Habits of Springbok

During the dry season, the springbok mates, and it lactates in the hot, wet season. Polygynous male springboks mate with several females at the same time. To mark their territory, males urinate and excrete massive amounts of dung during mating. Springboks males are very possessive and territorial; many battles break out as males from other territories try to get to the females of another herd. Between the ages of 1 and 2, females begin regularly reproducing, with gestation lasting roughly 4-6 months. Six months to a year is an average time frame for weaning; Springboks live in herds with primary females and their young, with only a few dominant males. The usual lifespan of a springbok is between seven and nine years. One young is born after a gestation period, and once it is born, the infant is kept hidden in long grass or a shrub for the first several days, then joins its mother in the nursery herd along with its siblings. Young males leave the herd to join a herd of bachelor animals, leaving the females behind. When a female reaches one year, she will begin to mate and do so every two years. At the age of two, males are sexually mature enough to procreate.

Important Facts about Springboks

An image of a springbok serves as South Africa’s national sporting symbol. South Africa highly revered and cherished Springboks and has an additional safeguard in place to protect this precious animal. The Springbok can only be hunted with permission or a specific license. Tourists flock to wildlife parks and private farms to see Springbok. Hunting without a permit for springboks supplied a plentiful supply of protein to southern Africa’s expanding population.

When it comes to South African game farm animals, the Springbok is among the most successful. Some Springboks are entirely black, while others are completely white. These creatures are highly sought after in the private market for trophy hunting. Hunters in South Africa have always preferred Springbok because of its succulent and flavorful meat and biltong, a type of jerky.