Antelopes

Status:  Least Concern

We’ve seen all the antelopes of Namibia, so it seems like a good time to focus on them (using photos downloaded from the net).   Each has its own unique characteristics.  While these animals are plentiful and their conservation status is “least concern,” the three-year drought has left a lot of antelopes hungry as the shrubbery they rely on dries up.

Kudu

65CEE086-28ED-40E0-B510-7E47C59038AEGreater kudu with their magnificent curlicue horns are not territorial. Maternal herds, usually 6-10 females and their offspring but sometimes as many as 20, have home ranges of approximately 4 square kilometers.   The males are bachelors who only join groups during the mating season in April-May.

Before mating, there is a courtship ritual which consists of the male standing in front of the female and often engaging in a “neck wrestle.”  The male then trails the female while issuing a low pitched call until the female allows him to copulate with her.   Greater kudu bulls tend to be much larger than the cows, and vocalize much more, utilizing low grunts, clucks, humming, and gasping.

It is not always advantageous to have an attraction such as their beautiful horns.  The male kudus are not always physically aggressive with each other, but sparring can sometimes can result in both males being unable to free themselves from the other’s horns, which can then result in the death of both animals.  Also, the horns of greater kudus are commonly used to make Shofars, a Jewish ritual horn blown at Rosh Hashanah, making them a human target.

Klipspringer

690E6427-F997-43C5-BAB1-2D213B6E866CTypically nocturnal, the klipspringer rests during the middle of the day and late at night. A gregarious animal, the klipspringer is monogamous to a much greater extent than other antelopes; individuals of opposite sexes exhibit long-term to lifelong pair bonding. The mates tend to stay as close as within 5 metres (16 ft) of each other at most times. Males form territories, 7.5–49 hectares (19–121 acres), in which they stay with their partners and offspring. Primarily a browser, the klipspringer prefers young plants, fruits and flowers. Gestation lasts around six months, following which a single calf is born; births peak from spring to early summer. The calf leaves its mother when it turns a year old.

Springbok

BCDF8C35-1B07-45FA-8709-A8C5CA642570A feature unique to the springbok is “pronking, in which the springbok performs multiple leaps into the air, ” up to 2 metres above the ground, in a stiff-legged posture, with the back bowed and the white flap lifted.  It is generally thought that pronking raises alarm against a potential predator or confuses 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.  Springbok are generally quiet animals, though they may make occasional low-pitched bellows as a greeting and high-pitched snorts when alarmed.

This video simply must be seen:

Oryx

490758E0-87D8-49DC-B194-FCEE341614F2This large antelope with its striking appearance of long horns and distinct colouration is the national animal of Namibia numbering over 300,000.   The Oryx occurs in the more arid regions throughout the African continent where it feeds on course grasses and thorny shrubs.

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Having successfully adapted to harsh conditions where scarce water and intense heat are the norm, it was chosen as Namibia’s national animal due to its courage, elegance and beauty – with the national coat of arms bearing this unmistakable dweller of the desert.  Striped like a race car and both males and females possessing two horns much like those of the mythical unicorn, it is the unique social structure of this species that sets it apart from others.

The way in which Oryx conserve water is fascinating. Having to consume up to 3 liters of water per 100kg of body weight per day, they are able to extract water from fruit and vegetables such as the Tsamma melon to maximize their water intake. These animals are perhaps also best known for their ability to wander far and wide when food and water is scarce, making them the quintessential nomadic Namibian animal.

The black and white markings on their bellies and legs is thought to reflect heat, thereby keeping their bodies as cool as possible. Their white and black faces though are more to show off their magnificent sword-like horns during competition for mates – size counts when it comes to female gemsbok, even though they have horns of their own, which are usually longer and thinner than those of the males. 

Steenbok

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Steenbok live in 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 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.

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.

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A fawn is kept hidden in vegetation for 2 weeks, but they suckle for 3 months.

 

 

 

Best,

Jan

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