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
The klipspringer occurs in isolated populations from Ethiopia to the tip of South Africa.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Klipspringers are small, stocky bovids. The males have wide-set, spike-like horns averaging 10cm long. Males and females have preorbital glands, males have preputial glands, and neither sex has hoof glands. The coat is thick and dense; the individual hairs are loosely connected to the skin and are hollow. This hair type is unique among bovids and otherwise found only in pronghorns and the white tailed deer. Females are slightly larger than males (Female height: 50-53cm; Male height: 49-52cm).
Range mass: 8.9 to 18 kg.
Average mass: 11 kg.
Habitat and Ecology
Klipspringers live in steep, rocky terrain and are most common in mountain ranges and gorges of major rivers. They are abundant in suitable habitat (as many as 45 animals per square kilometer), but they are patchily distributed among outcroppings of rock.
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest
Klipspringers are selective browsers. They prefer lush evergreen shrubs and herbs but will eat fruit, seed pods, flowers and lichens. They will leave their home ranges to forage on new grass shoots. They drink when water is available but they generally get water from their food.
Life History and Behavior
Status: captivity: 12.1 years.
Status: captivity: 15.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Reproduction varies with geography. Breeding is seasonal in Ethiopia, perennial in Zambia, and varies locally in Cape Province. Females give birth to one young after a seven month gestation period. Young are born in a protected rocky recess and remain hidden for 2-3 months. Young join the parents after 2-3 months and are weaned after 4-5 months. Horns begin to develop at 6 months and are fully grown at 17-18 months. Young reach adult size after one year.
Range number of offspring: 1 (low) .
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 7 to 7.5 months.
Range weaning age: 4 to 5 months.
Average birth mass: 1130 g.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 365 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 365 days.
Parental Investment: altricial
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Oreotragus oreotragus
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: Oreotragus oreotragus
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Because they are patchily distributed in isolated populations, klipspringers have differentiated into distinct populations, several of which are threatened. The most severely threatened population is the Nigerian subspecies O. o. porteousi. Other populations, especilly those in Ethiopia, are thriving.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status
East (1999) produced a total population estimate of about 42,000 animals, which is probably conservative. Population trend is stable in many protected areas and on private land, but tending to decrease in areas where small, isolated populations are subjected to uncontrolled hunting and competition with livestock. The numbers of the western klipspringer are unknown but are unlikely to exceed a few thousand at most, in view of its very restricted distribution. This subspeciesâ population is probably decreasing, at least in Nigeria.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Klipspringers may be a host to the tse-tse fly, which can carry African sleeping sickness.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
These agile, charming animals serve to attract tourists and hunters.
Distribution and habitat
The klipspringer lives from the Cape of Good Hope, where it is found in mountain fynbos, through the rest of Southern Africa, where it is found in rocky koppies in woodland and savanna, north to East Africa and into the highly mountainous highlands of Ethiopia.
Reaching approximately 58 cm (22 inches) at the shoulder, klipspringers are smaller than most other antelopes. They stand on the tips of their hooves and can fit all four hooves on a piece of cliff the size of a Canadian dollar coin (Loonie), roughly 30 mm in diameter. Male klipspringer horns are usually about 10–15 cm (4–6 inches) long. Female klipspringers in eastern African populations also have horns.
With a thick and dense, speckled "salt and pepper" patterned coat of an almost olive shade, klipspringers blend in well with the koppies (rock outcrops) on which they can usually be found. However, their agility on rocks and crags is so extreme that their most dangerous enemies are eagles and humans, so camouflage is not as important to them as to most other antelope.
Klipspringers form breeding pairs rather than herds. The pairs mate for life and will spend most of their lives in close proximity to each other. When one klipspringer is eating, the other will assume lookout duty, helping to keep the pair aware of any predators.
The mating season for klipspringers is from September through January. The gestation period is about 214 days.
- IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). Oreotragus oreotragus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
- Klipspringer at Animal Diversity Web
- Klipspringer at WildInfo
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