Klipspringer

Oreotragus oreotragus

The Klipspringer is another of South Africa’s smaller, and cuter, antelope, between 49 and 65cm high at the shoulder and weighing between 9 and 19kg. Adult ewes are slightly heavier than the horn-carrying rams.

Uniquely among antelope, the Klipspringer walks on the tips of its hooves, allowing it to balance like a ballerina on exceptionally small areas. This is a handy adaptation to the rugged and rocky mountains, hills and outcrops they inhabit. Their very apt Afrikaans name literally means “Rockjumper”. More than 90% of their diet consists of browse; leaves, twigs, flowers, fruit and seeds, preferring young growth. They are independent of drinking water.

Klipspringer pairs mark and defend small territories, in which they stay together for long periods, often for life. Small groups normally comprise the territorial pair accompanied by one or more of their lambs. Klipspringers are well camouflaged, and usually only observed when they stand sentinel on a conspicuous vantage point. They move around their rocky abodes with amazing agility, and are most active in the early mornings and late afternoons. Single lambs are born at any time of the year and have a life expectancy of between 7 and 15 years.

The IUCN considers the Klipspringer’s conservation status as “least concern”, with a stable population of at least 42,000 on the African continent. Good places to search for Klipspringer in South Africa is the Karoo, Kruger, Mapungubwe, Marakele and Pilanesberg National Parks. Some authorities believe that three different species of Klipspringer occur in South Africa; the Angolan or Tyler’s Klipspringer (O. tyleri) in the extreme north-west corner of the Northern Cape Province, the Cape Klipspringer (O. oreotragus) in the south-west of the country and the Transvaal Klipspringer (O. transvaalensis) in the north-east, though these may well only be different subspecies based on slight variances in colouration, horn length and body size.

 

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41 thoughts on “Klipspringer

  1. Pingback: Mokala National Park | de Wets Wild

  2. Jennifer Storms

    Very good info! You did answer one of my questions and that was about the tiptoe hooves. My other two questions are 1 y does it have an extra pair of eyes and what do they do? 2 What sounds does klipspringers make? Horses say neigh, cows say moo and pigs say oink for example.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thank you for the kind comment and good questions, Jennifer!

      What looks like an extra pair of eyes is actually a pair of scent glands that the klipspringer uses to mark its home range by rubbing the secretions onto prominent twigs and rock surfaces.

      Klipspringers aren’t very noisy animals, but they do make a shrill “whistle” through their nose when alarmed.

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  3. Pingback: A month of monochrome memories: On the Rocks | de Wets Wild

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      They are normally extremely skittish! But they do habituate easily where they occur close to people and are not harassed and then give excellent photographic opportunities 😉

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Absolutely Gordon. Pity that the doccies focus so much attention on the big an scary animals, our knowledge of other animals could have been vastly enhanced if they’d spend some time following the lesser known creatures.

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  4. northerndesert

    Wonderful photos of this little antelope. Love the position you caught in the first photo but they are all fantastic. What an amazing variety of antelope in Africa. A species for every possible niche it would seem. Great post!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks Alison. I must admit I really like doing this series about our antelope that I feature every now and then. And you are absolutely correct, from the 900kg eland to the 4kg blue duiker there’s a place for each of them in the big picture.

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