Widely known as the symbol and nickname to the national rugby team of South Africa, Springboks are strikingly beautiful antelopes that roam around the southern part of Africa. Springboks are famed for its remarkable leaping behavior and its reddish-brown color that makes them as gallant and as beautiful as the spring season.
Read further to know more about Springboks.
What is a Springbok?
Wandering around the central region of southern and southwestern Africa are Springboks. They are medium-sized antelopes that are the only member of the genus Antidorcas. They were named back in the 1780s by a German zoologist named Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmerman. Also called "Springbucks" and "Antidorcas marsupialis," this species are opportunistic feeders who are both grazers and browsers, as well as opportunistic breeders who can breed all year-round.
Springboks used to roam the treeless plains of Southern Africa in mega-herds called as "treks." However, for the last 100 years, Springbok's population has disappeared from several parts of South Africa. Presently, no significant threats are present to threaten the long-term survival of a Springbok; hence the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified this species as "Least Concern." Most of its population is now situated in wildlife preserves and private farms.
Its seven levels of classification are as follows:
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Cetartiodactyla
Family - Bovidae
Genus - Antidorcas
Species – Antidorcas marsupialis
Physical description of a Springbok
Springboks are usually confused with Impalas. Both species of herbivores are found in the southern parts of the African continent, and they share similar physical attributes that can be difficult to distinguish.
Little did most people know that there is one thing that can make them easily distinguishable from one another. Both male and female Springboks have strong, lyre-shaped horns that stand 35 to 50 cm long. On the other hand, only male Impalas have horns.
A Springbok possesses slender and long legs. They can grow to an average of 71 to 86 cm at the shoulder and weighs an average of 27 to 42 kg. Its face is white in color, a black line runs from its eyes to the corners of its mouth. It is covered in a light-brown coat with a reddish-brown streak that runs from the upper foreleg to its buttocks.
Where can you spot a Springbok?
Springboks are native to southern and southwestern areas in Africa. They are rampant in countries such as Namibia, Angola, Botswana, and South Africa.
Since they are herbivores, they inhabit open plains rich in grass and plants. Some Springboks are also sighted in desserts, shrublands, treeless savannas, and in the Highveld plateau located in South Africa.
Food Habits of a Springbok
Springboks are excellent adaptive browsers—they shift from one food source to another when the season changes. They feed on grass, young succulent grasses, flowers, and shrubs. They get hydrated through their food sources; therefore, they can survive dry seasons without any water source, which serves them great during dry seasons, saving them from dehydration. During extreme circumstances, Springboks seeks out water sources.
More interesting facts you should know about Springboks
This species is known for its peculiar way of leaping called pronking or strotting behavior, a movement they make when they showcase multiple leaps in the air. They like springing in the air, hence their name "spring," meaning jump, and "bok," meaning antelope. Pronkings have various functions. For one thing, it signifies as a distraction to predators such as cheetahs and lions. Springboks who jump higher, faster, and are usually more fit, are more likely to be saved from being killed. It is also a social function—the skin on its back produces a strong, sweet-smelling secretion that sends a message to others of its kind.
The breeding season happens the whole year, but peaks during the wet season when food sources are abundant. A female Springbok undergoes a 25-week of gestation period and then gives birth to a single lamb. Mother Springboks play a vital role in the upbringing of their young Springboks, as they tend to live in herds made up of female Springboks and a few dominant male Springboks.
Springboks are popular attractions for tourists in zoos and farms. Back in the day, Springboks were hunted by Dutch farmers because they ruined their crops. But today, only professional hunters can hunt them.
WILDLIFE PARKS AND RESERVES WHERE THIS SPECIES IS FOUND: