Springbok Fact File
Credit: Public Domain
Wild 7 years
Captive 7 years
The springbok is a gazelle like animal found across the plains of southern Africa. These animals are best known for a behavior known as pronking. This is a stiff-legged leap which helps to distract predators as they escape them.
Their day is spent browsing and grazing on grasses and shrubs found on the plains. These provide almost all of their water needs and they rarely drink free water.
Females leave their herd prior to giving birth and welcome their lamb in the security of a bush. The lamb is left here while the mother will go off to feed.
These animals are threatened through hunting for trophies and meat. Disease is also a threat. Despite these threats they are continuing to increase in number.
Read on to learn more about these magnificent mammals.
What does the springbok look like?
The springbok is a typical gazelle with long, slender legs and a thin body. Across the back they have tan fur with a white underside. This is separated by a black stripe. On the face there is a reddish-brown band.
Both the male and female springbok have a pair of short horns on top of the head which are more slender in females.
A fold of skin is present from the midback to the rump. This fold opens to display a flash of white fur.
At the end of the body is a short tail measuring 15-30cm (6-12in) long.
An average springbok will measure 96-115cm (3.25-3.75ft) long with a weight between 30 and 48kg (66-105lbs). They stand 80-90cm (31.5-35.5in) tall. Males are larger than females.
What does the springbok eat?
The springbok is a herbivore. Their diet is made up of plant material. These animals will primarily browse for food but they may also graze for grass.
Most of their water needs are provided by their food.
Credit: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Where can you find the springbok?
Africa is the native home of the springbok. Here they can be found in Angola; Botswana; Namibia and South Africa.
What kind of environment does the springbok live in?
These animals make their home in savanna, shrubland, grassland and desert.
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How does the springbok produce its young?
Breeding takes place during the dry season. During this time male only herds will move around with a view to finding a female to mate with.
After a 5 month gestation period the female will give birth to a single young known as a lamb. This birth takes place in a secluded area away from the herd. The female leaves her calf here while she goes to graze.
Young are weaned by four months old.
Females often remain with their herd while males leave and join a bachelor herd. They will need to gain control of a territory and hold this to gain breeding rights. Males will use their horns in fights to gain breeding rights.
Males are not involved in caring for the young.
Sexual maturity is reached at seven months old.
What does the springbok do with its day?
These antelopes are one of the species most commonly associated with the behavior known as pronking. This is a large leap in among their standard running. During it their legs are held stiff and straight.
It is thought that these leaps help them when evading predators. They can make it difficult for the predator to judge when to pounce on the predator.
In the past the springbok was known to move in large herds which at one point may have numbered in the millions. These days herds of more than a couple of thousand are rare.
Recently these large aggregations have only been seen in areas where food becomes scarce.
These animals can run at speeds of up to 90km/h (56mph).
Credit: Derek Keats from Johannesburg, South Africa, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Predators and Threats
What is impacting the survival of the springbok?
These predators can outrun the springbok over short distances making their habit of pronking important to evade the threat.
Numbers of the springbok across their range are believed to be increasing. The total population is estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 million individuals.
These animals are hunted and collected to be traded live. Large numbers are collected for game ranches where they are valued for their high meat output. Some are also used as taxidermy models.
They are susceptible to the heartwater disease and as a result can not survive in woodland savanna where this disease is common.
Their name is taken from their leaps which look like a spring. They may also be known as the ‘springbuck.’
The South African national rugby team is named after this species. They are also the national animal of South Africa.
While these animals appear similar to gazelles they are recognized in their own genus, antidorcas.
These animals were first described for science in the 1780s by a German zoologist.
Credit: Public Domain
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