The South African Springboks

The Springbok is a type of antelope that inhabits open plains, grasslands, scrublands, deserts and semi-arid areas of South Africa.  They’re very fast – reaching speeds of up to 60 miles per hour!

As herbivores, they live on grass, leaves, flowers, roots and tubers.  Their natural enemies in the wild are cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and lions but uncontrolled hunting (because of their meat and skin) and the construction of the fences (which prevent seasonal migrations) have led to a drastic reduction in the number of springboks in the wild. Fortunately the number of springboks is now stable and they are not listed as endangered.

Springbok facts:

  1. South Africa played its first rugby international in 1891, but it was not until they toured Britain in 1906 that they became known as the Springboks. Nelson Mandela intervened to save the Springbok emblem after the ANC came to power in the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.
  2. The male is noted for its “pronking” – leaping 6.5 to 9 feet from the ground into the air so that all four feet are off the ground.
  3. Springbok has pocket-like, flap of skin on the rump which conceals white crest. The white crest can be seen whenever springbok detects predators and sends message to other members of the group.
  4. Springboks form different types of herds: mixed herds (one dominant male with numerous females and their offspring), nursery herds (females and infants) and bachelor herds (young males).
  5. Springboks can mate all year round. Most babies are born during the rainy season, when food is abundant. Pregnancy in females lasts 5 to 6 months and ends with one baby which remains hidden in the bush or tall grass during the first few days of its life. At the age of 3 to 4 weeks, young springbok joins nursery herd with its mother.

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