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.