MAD MAMMAL MONDAY
Today’s Monday post is about klipspringer also known as one of the tiny ten antelope’s in Southern Africa. The name Klipspringer is the Afrikaans for ‘rock jumper’ and alludes to the animal’s ability in rocky territory where it can be seen moving freely, seemingly on tiptoe. It can be found in the following areas in Southern Africa, Zoutpansberg and Lebombo mountain ranges and foothills, along the Kuiseb River in the Namib Desert, lower Orange River, and common in the mountain areas of the Western Cape. Less common in the Drakensberg mountain range. The klipspringer is a small species of African antelope and its scientific name is Oreotragus oreotragus.
Its appearance is about 11 – 13 kg with the females being slightly larger than the males. Males have horns, they standing 500 – 600mm high at shoulders this is the small and stocky antelopes. Known for their remarkable jumping ability, klipspringers live singly or in life-long monogamous relationships in which pairs spend most of their time within a few meters of each other. The males are fiercely territorial. Diet consists of the selective browsing of flowers, tender green shoots and fruits of a wide variety of shrubs and herbs. Hardly ever feeds on grass. Not dependent on drinking water.
Klipspringers have specially adapted hoofs for living in their rocky territories. They stand, walk, leap, and land on their tiny hoof tips like ballerinas constantly on tip toe. Their hooves are the consistency of hard rubber, absorbing the shock of their huge leaps. Klipspringers have remarkable dense, coarse coats consisting of hollow hairs that rustle when shaken or touched. This unique quality hair helps to cushion their bodies from any abrasion from sharp rocks.
The klipspringer is mainly active during the early morning and late afternoon, resting during the hottest part of the day among rocks or beneath overhangs. Their remarkable agility among the steep rocks of native kopjes can be attributed to a set of unique feet. The strong back legs can project the klipspringer up a smooth wall, and they can jump onto a projection the size of a silver dollar with all four feet. Pairs have exclusive territories of 8-49 hectares in size, which they defend fiercely, and rarely leave. Both sexes are involved in marking with their preorbital glands. A sentinel, or watcher, is posted at all times within the group, and this animal is responsible for the safety of the group. When alarmed, the sentinel emits a shrill whistle to alert the other animals, at which they head for cover. For more info go to www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_klipspringer.htm or http://www.sanbona.com/propertyblogarticle.asp?id=156 and don't forget to check our blog at www.mammalmap.blog.com
- Marco Fitchet