Visible Male/Female Differences
males are slightly bigger than females, their horns are distinctly thicker, and they have
thicker necks. Females usually have one pair, occasionally two pairs, of nipples between
their hind legs.
Habitat and Distribution
Arid and semi-desert scrub. A true desert antelope which
is able to
survive indefinitely without drinking.
Grazes in summer and
browses more in winter and when veld is dry. Eats grasses, broad-leaved plants, bushes, seeds, pods,
fruits and flowers, and digs for roots and bulbs. Springbuck can eat plants that are unpalatable and
even toxic to other animals. Wild melons and cucumbers are eaten for their water content, and
soil for minerals.
Single young are born at any time of year after a gestation of 24 weeks.
Fawns begin to graze at two weeks and are weaned at two months. Females first mate
(often with more than one male) as early as 7 months; males are sexually mature at
Lambs cannot match an adult's speed until they are a month old. For the first two days
they lie tightly in the cover of bushes or grass clumps. Males do not secure territory and mate until at least 2-5 years old. Lifespan 10
Behavior and Habits
Lives in mixed herds of about 10-50, and up to 200. Active at any time of the
night. They grazes with the white rump towards the sun to minimizes heat
absorption and the white
under parts reflect heat from the ground. In summer they avoid midday heat by standing in shade
and lies in the sun in cold weather. In the Kalahari they spend the night in
the dunes where it is warmer. In the distant past springbok migrated in herds of
tens or hundreds of thousands. Adult males without territories form herds of up to 50. Rams
remain on their territories even when the
rest of the local springbuck have left in search of food and will only vacate
them when forced by food shortage. Territories are marked with middens of dung and urine.
To concentrate the pellets and the smell, the ram
defecates in a low crouch (like the Gemsbuck) and urinates on the pellets
standing stretched out to display the white and chestnut along the flanks. Territorial rams thrash bushes with their horns
and horn up vegetation.
Intruding males are chased away from females. Fights over territory and females are
savage and may result in fatalities from horn wounds, broken necks and
interlocking horns. Only territorial males breed.
Springbucks' most distinctive and striking behaviour is "pronking", which
includes a series of spectacular, stiff-legged jumps of up to 3m high with the head high or tucked
down. The crest of
white hair on the back flares open, producing a visual signal and releasing
sweet honey-like scent
from glands at the roots of the hair. Sudden alarms cause herds to scatter by
jumping or sprinting away. Top speed is 88 km/h.
The alarm call is a whistling snort. Males utter loud snorts in mating
season, females and lambs make a short "ur" sound as
Dung and Field sign
Dung middens in territories. Dung pellets are 1 - 1 5 cm long with short, sharp points,
sometimes squashed and stuck together.