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postheadericon Springbok

springbok oveberghuntingThe springbok (Afrikaans and Dutch: spring = jump; bok = antelope or goat) (Antidorcas marsupialis) is a medium-sized brown and white antelope of southwestern Africa.
The specific epithet marsupialis (Latin: marsupium, “pocket”) derives from a pocket-like skin flap which extends along the middle of the back from the tail onwards. When the male springbok is showing off his strength to attract a mate, or to ward off predators, he starts off in a stiff-legged trot, jumping up into the air with an arched back every few paces and lifting the flap along his back. Lifting the flap causes the long white hairs under the tail to stand up in a conspicuous fan shape, which in turn emits a strong scent of sweat. This ritual is known as stotting or pronking from the Afrikaans meaning to boast or show off.

Springbok adults are between 70 and 90 cm (28 and 35 in) tall at the shoulder, depending on weight and gender; they weigh between 25 and 35 kg (55 and 77 lb) for the females and 32 and 48 kg (71 and 110 lb) for the males. Their colouring consists of white, reddish/tan and dark brown. Their backs are tan-coloured and they are white beneath, with a dark brown stripe extending along each side from the shoulder to inside the thigh.
Rams are slightly larger than ewes, and have thick horns; the ewes tend to have skinnier legs and longer, more frail horns. Average horn length for both genders is 35 cm (14 in), with the record being a female with horns measuring 49.21 centimetres (19.37 in). Springbok footprints are narrow and sharp, and are 5.5 cm (2.2 in) long.
There are three variations in the color of springbok pelage . In addition to the normal springbok there are black springboks and white springboks. Black springboks primarily have two shades of chocolate-brown and a white marking on the face. White springboks are predominantly white with a very light brown colored side stripe.

Springbok inhabit the dry inland areas of south and southwestern Africa. Their range extends from the northwestern part of South Africa through the Kalahari desert into Namibia and Botswana. Springbok occur in numbers of up to 2,500,000 in South Africa; it is the most plentiful antelope. They used to be very common, forming some of the largest herds of mammals ever documented, but their numbers have diminished significantly since the 19th century due to hunting and fences from farms blocking their migratory routes.

In South Africa, springbok inhabit the vast grasslands of the Free State and the open shrublands of the greater and smaller Karoo including the Overberg Region. They inhabit most of Namibia – the grasslands of the south, the Kalahari desert to the east, and the dry riverbeds of the northern bushveld of the Windhoek region, as well as the harsh Namib Desert on the west coast. In Botswana, they mostly live in the Kalahari Desert in the southwestern and central parts of the country.

Springbok are mixed feeders, switching between grazing and browsing seasonally. When grasses are fresh, they mostly graze. At other times, they browse on shrubs and succulents. Springbok can meet their water needs from the food they eat, and survive without drinking water through dry season, or even over years. Reportedly, in extreme cases, they do not drink any water over the course of their lives. Springbok may accomplish this by selecting flowers, seeds, and leaves of shrubs before dawn, when these foods are most succulent. Springbok gather together in the wet seasons and spread out during the dry season, an unusual trait among African animals.

Main article: Stotting
The social structure of the springbok is similar to the Thomson’s gazelle. Bachelor males and females form separate herds. ¬†These groups are normally kept separate by territorial males, which round up female herds that enter their territories and keep out the bachelors.[10] Females may leave the herds solitarily or in groups to give birth.[10] Mothers and fawns may gather in nursery herds separate from harem and bachelor herds. After weaning, female offspring stay with their mothers until a new young is born, while males join bachelor groups.
Springbok often go into bouts of repeated high leaps of up to 4.0 metres (13 ft) into the air in a practice known as “pronking” (Afrikaans and Dutch: pronk, to show off) or “stotting”. While pronking, the Springbok repeatedly leaps into the air in a particular stiff-legged posture, with its back bowed and the white fan lifted. While the exact cause of this behavior is unknown, springbok exhibit this activity when they are nervous or otherwise excited. One theory is pronking is meant to indicate to predators that they have been spotted. Another is the springbok show off their individual strength and fitness so the predator will go for another (presumably weaker) member of the group. Another opinion is springbok and other similar antelopes do this to spray scent secreted from a gland near the heel.
The Dutch/Afrikaans term trekbokken refers to the large-scale migration of herds of springbok seen roaming the country during the early pioneer days of South Africa before farm fences were erected. Millions of migrating springbok formed herds hundreds of kilometers long that could take several days to pass a town. These are the largest herds of mammals ever witnessed.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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