Springbok

Antidorcas marsupialis

The springbok is a medium-sized antelope found mainly in southern and southwestern Africa. The sole member of the genus ''Antidorcas'', this bovid was first described by the German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1780. Three subspecies are identified. A slender, long-legged antelope, the springbok reaches 71 to 86 cm at the shoulder and weighs between 27 and 42 kg . Both sexes have a pair of black, 35-to-50 cm long horns that curve backwards. The springbok is characterised by a white face, a dark stripe running from the eyes to the mouth, a light-brown coat marked by a reddish-brown stripe that runs from the upper fore leg to the buttocks across the flanks like the Thomson's gazelle, and a white rump flap.

Active mainly at dawn and dusk, springbok form harems . In earlier times, springbok of the Kalahari desert and Karoo migrated in large numbers across the countryside, a practice known as ''trekbokken''. A feature unique to the springbok is pronking, in which the springbok performs multiple leaps into the air, up to 2 m above the ground, in a stiff-legged posture, with the back bowed and the white flap lifted. Primarily a browser, the springbok feeds on shrubs and succulents; this antelope can live without drinking water for years, meeting its requirements through eating succulent vegetation. Breeding takes place year-round, and peaks in the rainy season, when forage is most abundant. A single calf is born after a five- to six-month-long pregnancy; weaning occurs at nearly six months of age, and the calf leaves its mother a few months later.

Springbok inhabit the dry areas of south and southwestern Africa. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources classifies the springbok as a least concern species. No major threats to the long-term survival of the species are known; the springbok, in fact, is one of the few antelope species considered to have an expanding population. They are popular game animals, and are valued for their meat and skin. The springbok is the national animal of South Africa.
Springbok - African Wildlife - Golden Run A pair of Springbok run and jump into the golden dust of sunset.  Photographed in Namibia.   Africa,Antidorcas marsupialis,Namibia,Springbok,action,animal,antelope,background,beautiful,classic,dusk,fantastic,free,horns,icon,inspire,instinct,jump,life,lovely

Appearance

The springbok is a slender antelope with long legs and neck. Both sexes reach 71–86 cm at the shoulder with a head-and-body length typically between 120 and 150 cm . The weights for both sexes range between 27 and 42 kilograms . The tail, 14 to 28 cm long, ends in a short, black tuft. Major differences in the size and weight of the subspecies are seen. A study tabulated average body measurements for the three subspecies. ''A. m. angolensis'' males stand 84 cm tall at the shoulder, while females are 81 cm tall. The males weigh around 31 kg , while the females weigh 32 kg . ''A. m. hofmeyri'' is the largest subspecies; males are nearly 86 cm tall, and the notably shorter females are 71 cm tall. The males, weighing 42 kg , are heavier than females, that weigh 35 kg . However, ''A. m. marsupialis'' is the smallest subspecies; males are 75 cm tall and females 72 cm tall. Average weight of males is 31 kg , while for females it is 27 kg . Another study showed a strong correlation between the availability of winter dietary protein and the body mass.

Dark stripes extend across the white face, from the corner of the eyes to the mouth. A dark patch marks the forehead. In juveniles, the stripes and the patch are light brown. The ears, narrow and pointed, measure 15–19 cm . Typically light brown, the springbok has a dark reddish-brown band running horizontally from the upper foreleg to the edge of the buttocks, separating the dark back from the white underbelly. The tail , buttocks, the insides of the legs and the rump are all white. Two other varieties – pure black and pure white forms – are artificially selected in some South African ranches. Though born with a deep black sheen, adult black springbok are two shades of chocolate-brown and develop a white marking on the face as they mature. White springbok, as the name suggests, are predominantly white with a light tan stripe on the flanks.
The three springbok varieties
File:Normal_Springbok.svg|Typical springbok
File:Black_Springbok.svg|Pure black springbok
File:White_Springbok.svg|Pure white springbok

The three subspecies also differ in their colour. ''A. m. angolensis'' has a brown to tawny coat, with thick, dark brown stripes on the face extending two-thirds down to the snout. While the lateral stripe is nearly black, the stripe on the rump is dark brown. The medium brown forehead patch extends to eye level and is separated from the bright white face by a dark brown border. A brown spot is seen on the nose. ''A. m. hofmeyri'' is a light fawn, with thin, dark brown face stripes. The stripes on the flanks are dark brown to black, and the posterior stripes are moderately brown. The forehead patch, dark brown or fawn, extends beyond the level of the eyes and mixes with the white of the face without any clear barriers. The nose may have a pale smudge. ''A. m. marsupialis'' is a rich chestnut brown, with thin, light face stripes. The stripe near the rump is well-marked, and that on the flanks is deep brown. The forehead is brown, fawn, or white, the patch not extending beyond the eyes and having no sharp boundaries. The nose is white or marked with brown.

The skin along the middle of the dorsal side is folded in, and covered with 15 to 20 cm white hair erected by arrector pili muscles . This white hair is almost fully concealed by the surrounding brown hairs until the fold opens up, and this is a major feature distinguishing this antelope from gazelles. Springbok differ from gazelles in several other ways; for instance, springbok have two premolars on both sides of either jaw, rather than the three observed in gazelles. This gives a total of 28 teeth in the springbok, rather than 32 of gazelles. Other points of difference include a longer, broader, and rigid bridge to the nose and more muscular cheeks in springbok, and differences in the structure of the horns.

Both sexes have black horns, about 35–50 cm long, that are straight at the base and then curve backward. In ''A. m. marsupialis'', females have thinner horns than males; the horns of females are only 60 to 70% as long as those of males. Horns have a girth of 71–83 mm at the base; this thins to 56–65 mm towards the tip. In the other two subspecies, horns of both sexes are nearly similar. The spoor, narrow and sharp, is 5.5 cm long.
Springbok - Sun Runners A herd of Springbok run towards the setting sun, as photographed in the wilds of Namibia.  

This photograph symbolizes both the name of this species (they like to spring, or jump), and the energy that the sun holds.  Without the sun, no life will exist.  

I love this image as it implies action, color and behavior.  This antelope is very tricky to photograph due to its speed.  It is always best to anticipate its movement and focus on that spot ... and wait for them to cross that focus spot.  And at that spot, push the button.  

Freedom, as always, is as beautiful as Mona Lisa's smile.   Antidorcas marsupialis,Namibia,Springbok,animal,antelope,beautiful,color,colorful,dusk,dust,fantastic,field,golden,herd,light,magnificent,majestic,motion,nature,quick

Naming

The common name "springbok" comes from the Afrikaans words ''spring'' and ''bok'' ; the first recorded use of the name dates to 1775. The scientific name of the springbok is ''Antidorcas marsupialis''; ''anti'' is Greek for "opposite", and ''dorcas'' for "gazelle" – identifying that the animal is not a gazelle. The specific epithet ''marsupialis'' comes from the Latin ''marsupium'' ; it refers to a pocket-like skin flap which extends along the midline of the back from the tail. In fact, this physical feature distinguishes the springbok from true gazelles.
Springbok - Double Jump A pair of Springbok jump into the air simultaneously.  As seen in the wilds of Namibia, southwestern Africa. 

Springbok antelope - the name implies that they jump, or spring a lot - in Dutch and Afrikaans.  This lovely antelope is extremely tough and appearances are deceiving.  They can survive without water for up to 4 days.  A rarity.  They are adapted to desert environments, and this photo does not do true justice to their real natural surroundings (they are supposed to be in the desert).  

Springbok is also the National Emblem of the South African rugby team - The Springboks.  This in-itself stamps out the authority and love that this species has in Southern Africa.  

The ram's horns are thicker than the ewes - so in this photo I would say the one closest to us is a young ram, probably with its mother ewe in the back.  He is about to be kicked out of the herd by the dominant ram. 

When it comes to mating, Springbok are rather unusual.  A territorial ram will claim his "area".  When a herd moves through it, he will mate.  Once the herd is out of his territory, he will not follow the herd and rather allow the next territorial ram to take care of the herd. 

  Africa,Antidorcas marsupialis,Geotagged,Namibia,Springbok,Summer,action,beautiful,blur,desert-adapted,fantastic,free,horns,jump,magnificent,markings,motion,pair,plain,speed

Distribution

Springbok inhabit the dry areas of south and southwestern Africa. Their range extends from northwestern South Africa through the Kalahari desert into Namibia and Botswana. The Transvaal marks the eastern limit of the range, from where it extends westward to the Atlantic and northward to southern Angola and Botswana. In Botswana, they mostly occur in the Kalahari desert in the southwestern and central parts of the country. They are widespread across Namibia and the vast grasslands of the Free State and the shrublands of Karoo in South Africa; however, they are confined to the Namib Desert in Angola.

The historic range of the springbok stretched across the dry grasslands, bushlands, and shrublands of south-western and southern Africa; springbok migrated sporadically in southern parts of the range. These migrations are rarely seen nowadays, but seasonal congregations can still be observed in preferred areas of short vegetation, such as the Kalahari desert.
Springbok - Masterpieces of the Desert Springbok antelope visit a blue pool of water on the edge of the salt pans, as seen in the Etosha National Park. 

This gracious antelope is adapted to the harsh desert environments, and in an area where the eye sees little life (but actually there is a lot of life not seen), they do appear as absolute Masterpieces from Nature.  In this photo, an ewe to the far left.  In front of her a young ram, with a full adult ram staring into the lens (in blur).

I love this photo as the colors blend in wonderfully, reflections and all.  Vivid and bright as can be (for the desert).  Etosha National Park has a huge open salt plain where no vegetation grows.  During periods of heavy rain, this pan fills up and draws in millions of birds (including rare species such as the Blue Crane).  And so the name Etosha Pan came to be (salt pan).  

This specific park has close to 400 000 resident Springbok, an icon of desert surroundings and of this park.  Not only are Springbok true survivors, they are also superbly gracious and beautiful to the core.  Antidorcas marsupialis,Geotagged,Namibia,Springbok,Summer,antelope,beautiful,blue,brown,color,desert,environment,ewe,free,gracious,hardy,horns,markings,ram,reflection

Status

The springbok has been classified as least concern by the IUCN. No major threats to the long-term survival of the species are known. In fact, the springbok is one of the few antelope species with a positive population trend.

Springbok occur in several protected areas across their range: Makgadikgadi and Nxai National Park ; Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between Botswana and South Africa; Etosha National Park and Namib-Naukluft Park ; Mokala and Karoo National Parks and a number of provincial reserves in South Africa. In 1999, Rod East of the IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group estimated the springbok population in South Africa at more than 670,000, noting that it might be an underestimate. However, estimates for Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Transvaal, Karoo, and the Free State , were in complete disagreement with East's estimate. Springbok are under active management in several private lands. Small populations have been introduced into private lands and provincial areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
Springbok under Faidherbia albida. Gobabeb Research Station, Namibia. Mar 16, 2016. Antidorcas marsupialis,Geotagged,Namibia,Springbok,Summer

Behavior

Springbok are mainly active around dawn and dusk. Activity is influenced by weather; springbok can feed at night in hot weather, and at midday in colder months. They rest in the shade of trees or bushes, and often bed down in the open when weather is cooler. The social structure of the springbok is similar to that of Thomson's gazelle. Mixed-sex herds or harems have a roughly 3:1 sex ratio; bachelor individuals are also observed. In the mating season, males generally form herds and wander in search of mates. Females live with their offspring in herds, that very rarely include dominant males. Territorial males round up female herds that enter their territories and keep out the bachelors; mothers and juveniles may gather in nursery herds separate from harem and bachelor herds. After weaning, female juveniles stay with their mothers until the birth of their next calves, while males join bachelor groups.

A study of vigilance behaviour of herds revealed that individuals on the borders of herds tend to be more cautious; vigilance decreases with group size. Group size and distance from roads and bushes were found to have major influence on vigilance, more among the grazing springbok than among their browsing counterparts. Adults were found to be more vigilant than juveniles, and males more vigilant than females. Springbok passing through bushes tend to be more vulnerable to predator attacks as they can not be easily alerted, and predators usually conceal themselves in bushes. Another study calculated that the time spent in vigilance by springbok on the edges of herds is roughly double that spent by those in the centre and the open. Springbok were found to be more cautious in the late morning than at dawn or in the afternoon, and more at night than in the daytime. Rates and methods of vigilance were found to vary with the aim of lowering risk from predators.

During the rut, males establish territories, ranging from 10 to 70 hectares , which they mark by urinating and depositing large piles of dung. Males in neighbouring territories frequently fight for access to females, which they do by twisting and levering at each other with their horns, interspersed with stabbing attacks. Females roam the territories of different males. Outside of the rut, mixed-sex herds can range from as few as three to as many as 180 individuals, while all-male bachelor herds are of typically no more than 50 individuals. Harem and nursery herds are much smaller, typically including no more than 10 individuals.

In earlier times, when large populations of springbok roamed the Kalahari desert and Karoo, millions of migrating springbok formed herds hundreds of kilometres long that could take several days to pass a town. These mass treks, known as ''trekbokken'' in Afrikaans, took place during long periods of drought. Herds could efficiently retrace their paths to their territories after long migrations. ''Trekbokken'' is still observed occasionally in Botswana, though on a much smaller scale than earlier.

Springbok often go into bouts of repeated high leaps of up to 2 m into the air – a practice known as pronking or stotting. In pronking, the springbok performs multiple leaps into the air in a stiff-legged posture, with the back bowed and the white flap lifted. When the male shows off his strength to attract a mate, or to ward off predators, he starts off in a stiff-legged trot, leaping into the air with an arched back every few paces and lifting the flap along his back. Lifting the flap causes the long white hairs under the tail to stand up in a conspicuous fan shape, which in turn emits a strong scent of sweat. Although the exact cause of this behaviour is unknown, springbok exhibit this activity when they are nervous or otherwise excited. The most accepted theory for pronking is that it is a method to raise alarm against a potential predator or confuse it, or to get a better view of a concealed predator; it may also be used for display. Springbok are very fast antelopes, clocked at 88 km/h . They generally tend to be ignored by carnivores unless they are breeding. Caracals, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, and wild dogs are major predators of the springbok. Southern African wildcats, black-backed jackals, black eagles, martial eagles, and tawny eagles target juveniles. Springbok are generally quiet animals, though they may make occasional low-pitched bellows as a greeting and high-pitched snorts when alarmed.
Springbok || Grootberg plateau || Oct 2018
https://www.facebook.com/MohammedSalmanPics/ Antidorcas marsupialis,Springbok

Habitat

Springbok are mainly active around dawn and dusk. Activity is influenced by weather; springbok can feed at night in hot weather, and at midday in colder months. They rest in the shade of trees or bushes, and often bed down in the open when weather is cooler. The social structure of the springbok is similar to that of Thomson's gazelle. Mixed-sex herds or harems have a roughly 3:1 sex ratio; bachelor individuals are also observed. In the mating season, males generally form herds and wander in search of mates. Females live with their offspring in herds, that very rarely include dominant males. Territorial males round up female herds that enter their territories and keep out the bachelors; mothers and juveniles may gather in nursery herds separate from harem and bachelor herds. After weaning, female juveniles stay with their mothers until the birth of their next calves, while males join bachelor groups.

A study of vigilance behaviour of herds revealed that individuals on the borders of herds tend to be more cautious; vigilance decreases with group size. Group size and distance from roads and bushes were found to have major influence on vigilance, more among the grazing springbok than among their browsing counterparts. Adults were found to be more vigilant than juveniles, and males more vigilant than females. Springbok passing through bushes tend to be more vulnerable to predator attacks as they can not be easily alerted, and predators usually conceal themselves in bushes. Another study calculated that the time spent in vigilance by springbok on the edges of herds is roughly double that spent by those in the centre and the open. Springbok were found to be more cautious in the late morning than at dawn or in the afternoon, and more at night than in the daytime. Rates and methods of vigilance were found to vary with the aim of lowering risk from predators.

During the rut, males establish territories, ranging from 10 to 70 hectares , which they mark by urinating and depositing large piles of dung. Males in neighbouring territories frequently fight for access to females, which they do by twisting and levering at each other with their horns, interspersed with stabbing attacks. Females roam the territories of different males. Outside of the rut, mixed-sex herds can range from as few as three to as many as 180 individuals, while all-male bachelor herds are of typically no more than 50 individuals. Harem and nursery herds are much smaller, typically including no more than 10 individuals.

In earlier times, when large populations of springbok roamed the Kalahari desert and Karoo, millions of migrating springbok formed herds hundreds of kilometres long that could take several days to pass a town. These mass treks, known as ''trekbokken'' in Afrikaans, took place during long periods of drought. Herds could efficiently retrace their paths to their territories after long migrations. ''Trekbokken'' is still observed occasionally in Botswana, though on a much smaller scale than earlier.

Springbok often go into bouts of repeated high leaps of up to 2 m into the air – a practice known as pronking or stotting. In pronking, the springbok performs multiple leaps into the air in a stiff-legged posture, with the back bowed and the white flap lifted. When the male shows off his strength to attract a mate, or to ward off predators, he starts off in a stiff-legged trot, leaping into the air with an arched back every few paces and lifting the flap along his back. Lifting the flap causes the long white hairs under the tail to stand up in a conspicuous fan shape, which in turn emits a strong scent of sweat. Although the exact cause of this behaviour is unknown, springbok exhibit this activity when they are nervous or otherwise excited. The most accepted theory for pronking is that it is a method to raise alarm against a potential predator or confuse it, or to get a better view of a concealed predator; it may also be used for display. Springbok are very fast antelopes, clocked at 88 km/h . They generally tend to be ignored by carnivores unless they are breeding. Caracals, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, and wild dogs are major predators of the springbok. Southern African wildcats, black-backed jackals, black eagles, martial eagles, and tawny eagles target juveniles. Springbok are generally quiet animals, though they may make occasional low-pitched bellows as a greeting and high-pitched snorts when alarmed.Springbok inhabit the dry areas of south and southwestern Africa. Their range extends from northwestern South Africa through the Kalahari desert into Namibia and Botswana. The Transvaal marks the eastern limit of the range, from where it extends westward to the Atlantic and northward to southern Angola and Botswana. In Botswana, they mostly occur in the Kalahari desert in the southwestern and central parts of the country. They are widespread across Namibia and the vast grasslands of the Free State and the shrublands of Karoo in South Africa; however, they are confined to the Namib Desert in Angola.

The historic range of the springbok stretched across the dry grasslands, bushlands, and shrublands of south-western and southern Africa; springbok migrated sporadically in southern parts of the range. These migrations are rarely seen nowadays, but seasonal congregations can still be observed in preferred areas of short vegetation, such as the Kalahari desert.
Etosha Waterhole Scene The title says it all and features: Springbok, Zebras, and Blacksmith Plovers - and a turtle if you look closely. Antidorcas marsupialis,Geotagged,Namibia,Spring,Springbok,etosha,namibia

Reproduction

Springbok mate year-round, though females are more likely to enter oestrus during the rainy season, when food is more plentiful. Females are able to conceive at as early as six to seven months, whereas males do not attain sexual maturity until two years; rut lasts 5 to 21 days. When a female approaches a rutting male, the male holds his head and tail at level with the ground, lowers his horns, and makes a loud grunting noise to attract her. The male then urinates and sniffs the female's perineum. If the female is receptive, she urinates, as well, and the male makes a flehmen gesture, and taps his leg till the female leaves or permits him to mate. Copulation consists of a single pelvic thrust.

Gestation lasts five to six months, after which a single calf is born. Most births take place in the spring , prior to the onset of the rainy season. The infant weighs 3.8 to 5 kg ; the female keeps her calf hidden in cover while she is away. Mother and calf rejoin the herd about three to four weeks after parturition; the young are weaned at five or six months. When the mother gives birth again, the previous offspring, now 6 to 12 months old, deserts her to join herds of adult springbok. Thus, a female can calve twice a year, and even thrice if one calf dies. Springbok live for up to 10 years in the wild.
Springbok Running Along The Dunes A springbok running along the high dunes at Sossusvlei, Naukluft National Park in Namibia. They are such elegant sprinters and it always amazes me on how despite harsh conditions these antelopes seem to go thru life with ease and grace. Antidorcas marsupialis,Dunes,Namibia,Naukluft,Sossusvlei,Springbok

Food

Springbok are primarily browsers and may switch to grazing occasionally; they feed on shrubs and young succulents before they lignify. They prefer grasses such as ''Themeda triandra''. Springbok can meet their water needs from the food they eat, and are able to survive without drinking water through dry season. In extreme cases, they do not drink any water over the course of their lives. Springbok may accomplish this by selecting flowers, seeds, and leaves of shrubs before dawn, when the food items are most succulent. In places such as Etosha National Park, springbok seek out water bodies where they are available. Springbok gather in the wet season and disperse during the dry season, unlike other African mammals.
Springbok in Etosha Not particularly exotic or rare, but this picture captures the essence of Etosha NP for me. Antidorcas marsupialis,Geotagged,Namibia,Spring,Springbok,etosha,namibia

Predators

The springbok has been classified as least concern by the IUCN. No major threats to the long-term survival of the species are known. In fact, the springbok is one of the few antelope species with a positive population trend.

Springbok occur in several protected areas across their range: Makgadikgadi and Nxai National Park ; Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between Botswana and South Africa; Etosha National Park and Namib-Naukluft Park ; Mokala and Karoo National Parks and a number of provincial reserves in South Africa. In 1999, Rod East of the IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group estimated the springbok population in South Africa at more than 670,000, noting that it might be an underestimate. However, estimates for Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Transvaal, Karoo, and the Free State , were in complete disagreement with East's estimate. Springbok are under active management in several private lands. Small populations have been introduced into private lands and provincial areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
Springbok herd - Natural Framing A herd of Springbok gathers on an open field, naturally framed by an old dead tree.  Photographed in the wilds of Namibia, southwestern Africa.  Antidorcas marsupialis,Geotagged,Namibia,Springbok,field,framed,herd,horns,markings,old,pattern,tree

Evolution

The springbok is the sole member of the genus ''Antidorcas'' and is placed in the family Bovidae. It was first described by the German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1780. Zimmermann assigned the genus ''Antilope'' to the springbok. In 1845, Swedish zoologist Carl Jakob Sundevall placed the springbok in ''Antidorcas'', a genus of its own.

In 2013, Eva Verena Bärmann and colleagues undertook a revision of the phylogeny of the tribe Antilopini on the basis of nuclear and mitochondrial data. They showed that the springbok and the gerenuk form a clade with saiga as sister taxon. The study pointed out that the saiga and the springbok could be considerably different from the rest of the antilopines; a 2007 phylogenetic study even suggested that the two form a clade sister to the gerenuk. The cladogram below is based on the 2013 study.

...snipped...

Fossil springbok are known from the Pliocene; the antelope appears to have evolved about three million years ago from a gazelle-like ancestor. Three fossil species of ''Antidorcas'' have been identified, in addition to the extant form, and appear to have been widespread across Africa. Two of these, ''A. bondi'' and ''A. australis'', became extinct around 7,000 years ago . The third species, ''A. recki'', probably gave rise to the extant form ''A. marsupialis'' during the Pleistocene, about 100,000 years ago. Fossils have been reported from Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene sites in northern, southern, and eastern Africa. Fossils dating back to 80 and 100 thousand years ago have been excavated at Herolds Bay Cave and Florisbad , respectively.

Three subspecies are recognised:
⤷ ''A. m. angolensis'' – Occurs in Benguela and Moçâmedes .
⤷ ''A. m. hofmeyri'' – Occurs in Berseba and Great Namaqualand . Its range lies north of the Orange River, stretching from Upington and Sandfontein through Botswana to Namibia.
⤷ ''A. m. marsupialis'' – Its range lies south of the Orange River, extending from the northeastern Cape of Good Hope to the Free State and Kimberley.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderArtiodactyla
FamilyBovidae
GenusAntidorcas
SpeciesA. marsupialis