The steinbuck is found in the southern and eastern savanna of Africa. There are two main populations of steinbuck, separated from one another by the miombo woodlands (Kingdon, 1982).
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
The steinbuck is a small antelope (Stuart and Stuart, 1995). The length of its head and body ranges from 70 - 95 cm. The shoulder height varies from 45 - 60 cm. The tail is very short, with total length ranging from 4 - 6 cm (Kingdon, 1982). The horns are only found on males; they range in height from 9- 19 cm (Kingdon, 1982) and are vertical in orientation (Stuart and Stuart, 1995). The coloration of the steinbuck is reddish-fawn, with a white throat and belly. They also have large, white lined ears. The hooves are sharp and serve a variety of functions (Kingdon, 1982).
Range mass: 7 to 16 kg.
Average basal metabolic rate: 20.619 W.
Habitat and Ecology
Steinbucks prefer open areas, but they require cover nearby (Stuart and Stuart, 1995). Steinbucks are never found in wooded or broken areas. They are beginning to be found in slightly wooded areas and areas where the environment is more open due to cultivation and road building (Kingdon, 1982).
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland
The diet of the steinbuck ranges from grasses to roots and tubers of some plants. Steinbucks prefer the shoots of buchland trees and shrubs. They prefer foods that are rich and easily digestible. Steinbuck tend to eat more grasses in the early rainy season or after burns (Kingdon, 1982).
Life History and Behavior
Status: captivity: 9.3 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Steinbucks breed throughout the year (Kingdon, 1982), but calves are usually born in the summer (Stuart and Stuart, 1995). The interval between births ranges from five and a half to nine months. The gestation period ranges from 168 - 177 days. At birth, the young steinbucks weigh around one kilogram. Within five minutes of birth, steinbucks begin to feed from their mothers. Steinbucks begin to eat grass around two weeks after birth (Kingdon, 1982). For the first few weeks, young steinbucks remain hidden (Stuart and Stuart, 1995). Steinbucks are weaned in three months (Kingdon, 1982).
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Range gestation period: 5.6 to 5.9 months.
Average weaning age: 3 months.
Average birth mass: 920 g.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 243 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 238 days.
Parental Investment: altricial
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Raphicerus campestris
There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank. Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species. See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen. Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Raphicerus campestris
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
In Africa, steinbucks have been hunted for sport and meat. They are captured by snaring or by hunting with dogs (Kingdon, 1982).
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material
Steenbok resemble small Oribi, standing 45–60cm (16"-24") at the shoulder. Their pelage (coat) is any shade from fawn to rufous, typically rather orange. The underside, including chin and throat, is white, as is the ring around the eye. Ears are large with "finger-marks" on the inside. Males have straight, smooth, parallel horns 7–19 cm long (see image left). There is a black crescent-shape between the ears, a long black bridge to the glossy black nose, and a black circular scent-gland in front of the eye. The tail is not usually visible, being only 4–6 cm long.
There are two distinct clusters in steenbok distribution. In East Africa, it occurs in central and southern Kenya and Tanzania. It was formerly widespread in Uganda, but is now possibly extinct there. In southern Africa, it occurs in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and probably Lesotho.
Steenbok can use a variety of habitats from semi-desert, such as the edge of the Kalahari Desert and Etosha National Park, to open woodland and thickets, including open plains, stony savannah, and Acacia–grassland mosaics. They are said to favour unstable or transitional habitats. At least in the central part of Kruger National Park, South Africa, Steenbok show a distinct preference for Acacia tortilis savannah throughout the year, with no tendency to migrate to moister areas in the dry season (unlike many African savannah ungulates, including species sympatric with Steenbok in the wet season).
Steenbok typically browse on low-level vegetation (they cannot reach above 0.9 m), but are also adept at scraping up roots and tubers. In central Kruger National Park, Steenbok show a distinct preference for forbs, and then woody plants (especially Flueggea virosa) when few forbs are available. They will also take fruits and only very rarely graze on grass. They are almost entirely independent of drinking water, gaining the moisture they need from their food.
During cool periods, steenbok are active throughout the day; however, during hotter periods, they rest under shade during the heat of the day. While resting, they may be busy grooming, ruminating or taking brief spells of sleep.
At the first sign of trouble, steenbok typically lie low in the vegetation. If a predator or perceived threat comes closer, a steenbok will leap away and follow a zigzag route to try to shake off the pursuer. Escaping steenbok frequently stop to look back, and flight is alternated with prostration during extended pursuit. They are known to take refuge in the burrows of Aardvarks. Known predators include African wild cat, caracal, jackals, leopard, martial eagle and pythons.
Steenbok are typically solitary, except for when a pair come together to mate. However, it has been suggested that pairs occupy consistent territories while living independently, staying in contact through scent markings, so that they know where their mate is most of the time. Scent marking is primarily through dung middens. Territories range from 4 hectares to one square kilometre. The male is aggressive during the female's oestrus, engaging in "bluff-and-bluster" type displays with rival males—prolonged contests invariably involve well-matched individuals, usually in their prime.
Breeding occurs throughout the year, although more fawns are born November to December in the southern spring–summer; some females may breed twice a year. Gestation period is about 170 days, and usually a single precocious fawn is produced. The fawn is kept hidden in vegetation for 2 weeks, but they suckle for 3 months. Females become sexually mature at 6–8 months and males at 9 months.
Steenbok are known to live for 7 years or more.
Two subspecies are recognized: R. c. campestris in Southern Africa and R. c. naumanni of East Africa; although MSW3 also recognizes capricornis and kelleni. Up to 24 subspecies have been described from Southern Africa, distinguished on such features as coat colour.
- IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). Raphicerus campestris. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 29 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
- Williams, John G. 1967. A Field Guide to the National Parks of East Africa. Collins, London. (ISBN 0-00-219294-2)
- Kingdon, Jonathan. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego & London. Pp. 387–388. (ISBN 0-12-408355-2)
- Du Toit, Johan T. 1993. The feeding ecology of a very small ruminant, the steenbok (Raphicerus campestris). African Journal of Ecology 31: 35–48.
- Du Toit, J.T. 1990. Feeding-height stratification among African browsing ruminants. African Journal of Ecology 28: 55–61.
- Cohen, Michael. 1976. The Steenbok: A neglected species. Custos (April 1976): 23–26.
- Matthee, Conrad A.; Scott K. Davis (2001). "Molecular Insights into the Evolution of the Family Bovidae: A Nuclear DNA Perspective". Molecular Biology and Evolution (Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution) 11 (7): 1220–1230. PMID 11420362. Retrieved 2007-06-17.
- Wilson, Don E. and DeeAnn M. Reeder (ed.). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd edn). Johns Hopkins University Press, 2142p.