Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus)

Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) are small antelope weighing between 8 and 18 kg with females weighing slightly more than males (male average: 10.6 kg; female average: 13.2 kg). The total length of klipspringers is between 75 and 115 cm with females being slightly longer than males (male average: 86.2 cm; female average: 90.5 cm). Heights of klipspringer are more variable, ranging from 43 to 51 cm. This distinctive antelope has a dark-grey bristly coat and an almost speckled appearance.

The name klipspringer comes from the Afrikaans language and describes the mammal’s ability to jump from rock to rock or its capability to climb up steep rock faces.

Klipspringers are stocky antelopes with a short neck and body, and large hindquarters, which help it jump from rock to rock. Their ears are rounded and large, and their tails are small and rudimentary. Their hoof structure is unique because the last joints of the digits are rotated so klipspringers can walk on the tips of their hooves. Walking wears down the hooves giving them a cylindrical shape, which is suitable for a lifestyle on the rocks. Klipspringers secrete pheromones from their preorbital glands, which are narrow black slits found in the corner of their eyes. The scent glands are more developed in males than females.

It has goat-like habits and is invariably found in the vicinity of Koppies or cliffs. It lives in pairs in suitable habitats in Kidepo Valley and Lake Mburo National Parks.

Klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus uganda

Behavior

Klipspringers are active both during the day and the night, but are considered most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Throughout the remainder of the day, they tend to hide in the shade to avoid the heat. When temperatures are cool, klipspringers will remain active throughout the day.

When a klipspringer invades another klipspringer’s territory, the male chases the intruder away. If the intruder is persistent, the klipspringer will undergo antagonistic behaviors, such as dominance displays, defensive displays, and fighting as a last resort.

A dominance display includes horn presentation without lowering the anterior part of the body, whereas a defensive display consists of lowering the head with the chin out while biting the intruder.

Males that fight will lower their horns and butt heads, whereas females will bite and rip each other’s fur out.

Habitat

Klipspringers are restricted to rocky habitat including rocky hills or outcrops, koppies, and gorges with rocky sides. They can be found on rocky mountains as high as 4000 meters tall. Klipspringers will also travel up to 10 km along flat land between isolated koppies.

In Uganda the Klipspringer has been recorded in Kidepo Valley and Lake Mburo National Parks.

References

  • Michelle Ewacha, University of Manitoba, Jane Waterman, University of Manitoba, Laura Podzikowski, Special Projects. https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Oreotragus_oreotragus/
  • Burger, B., T. Yang, M. Le Roux, W. Brandt, A. Cox, P. Hart. 1997. Mammalian exocrine secretions XI. Constituents of the preorbital secretion of klipspringer, Oreotragus oreotragus. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 23(10): 2382-2400.
  • Estes, R. 1991. The behavior guide to African mammals: Including hoofed mammals, carnivores, primates. Berkely and Los Angelus, California: University of California Press.
  • IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Oreotragus oreotragus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T15485A50191264. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T15485A50191264.en
  • Bradt Travel Guides, Uganda, By Philip Briggs, Andrew Roberts. https://amzn.to/372YK7p

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