Springbok [Antidorcas marsupialis]
Rams may weigh up to 50 Kg, and ewes only up to 37 Kg. Their striking body colour renders them easily recognizable. Shoulders appear lower than the hindquarters. Cinnamon coloured upper body, white underparts and a broad dark brown stripe on either flank stretching from the front legs to the rear legs. The short white tail is brown tufted. The rump is marked by a triangular-shaped white patch, framed by a dark brown stripe with the apex on the top of the hindquarters. Horns of ewes are more slender and shorter than those of rams.
Springboks are selective feeders, whose diet comprises the best fodder available at any given time. They browse in the dry season and predominantly graze after the rainy season when grasses spout green. They are fond of flowers such as of Acacia, and drink water readily, but when open water is scarce, water requirements are met by eating moisture-rich tubers and roots.
Mating is normally restricted to a one or two week rut, although this specie is capable to breed at any time of the year. After a gestation period of 25 weeks single lambs are born. Lambs are hidden for the first two days after birth. Most ewes breed every year, some even twice. Young are weaned at about four months and ewes become sexually mature at the age of seven months.
Only rams establish territories for mating opportunities. The exception is territorial rams, which prefer to live in the solitude of their territories. Herd composition is flexible.
The Springbok live in a harsh and unpredictable environment. Calcareous pans, dry river beds and short grass savannah are preferred. They avoid areas of tall grass.
Where they are found
The Springbok is the most abundant antelope in the central and western parts of South Africa. Some herds are still free roaming within some of its natural range, but most are now confined to farmlands and reserves. They are a common feature in most of South Africa’s national, provincial and private reserves.
Springbok in their hundreds of thousands roamed the arid regions of southern Africa at the time the first settlers arrived, but the herds were quickly decimated and today they are only found in protected areas and farms.
Once the national animal of South Africa the debate still rages as to whether the Springbok is a symbol of Apartheid. The national rugby team of South Africa is still known as the Springboks.