Thursday, August 16, 2018

Kaokoveld Springbok

The springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) gets its name from some oddities that it has. The common name comes from Afrikaans and means springing, or jumping, gazelle or goat. The scientific name, "antidorcas," is Greek for not a gazelle, and "marsupialis" refers to a bizarre pocket-like skin flap it has which extends from the tail up along the mid-line of the back. This is the feature that distinguishes it from a true gazelle. 
I love this photo. The streaks along the white face, ornamented eyes and ornate horns remind me of a Japanese Geisha girl. Note this picture with those below. The marsupial-like pouch is not visible.
At Okaukuejo waterhole. 
The common and scientific names combine to somewhat describe the springbok's display of "pronking" where the springbok springs into the air, with all four feet off the ground, all relatively stiff and pointing down, and back arched and head pointing down. Adding to the display, the marsupial-like skin flap opens up exposing a shocking, long, wide, bright-white mohawk-like area of fur. Both elements add together to provide a weird and entertaining display. We saw pronking a couple of times and managed just a few terrible photos that at least give an indication of what it is about. Here is a great video with pronking set to ballet music. 
This is one of my horrible, but few, pictures of a springbok pronking, in mid-air. 
Here the marsupial-like skin flap is open, exposing the mohawk-like white fur. 
The springbok has a dark stripe from the corner of each eye to the mouth crossing a white face. There is a dark patch on the forehead below the horns. It is light brown with a dark reddish-brown band from the upper foreleg to the edge of the buttocks, separating the light brown from the white underbelly. The tail (except for the black tuft at the end), buttocks, insides of the legs and rump are white. Both male and female have horns that are straight at the base and then curve backward. 
Here the stripes down the face make the springbok almost alien-like. 

A young springbok with small horns. 
A good view of the lateral stripe and face stripe. 
There are three subspecies of springbok: (a) Angolan springbok (A. m. angolensis) found in southwestern Angola; (b) Kalahari or Kaokoveld springbok (A. m. hofmeyri) found north of the Orange River in South Africa up through Namibia and Botswana; and (c) Highveld-Karoo or Karoo springbok (A. m. maruspialis) found south of the Orange River in South Africa from the northeastern Cape of Good Hope to Kimberley and the Free State. 

There are differences in size and coloration between the three subspecies. We saw the Kaokoveld springbok in Etosha NP in Namibia. The Kaokoveld Desert is found in northwestern Namibia and southwestern Angola. It is the largest of the subspecies. 
Our best sighting of springbok occured near the Etosha pan on our way to Okondeka waterhole. There were many of them congregated together. They are at once beautiful and also very weird. 

We also saw them in much smaller quantities, for example at the Nebrownii waterhole, mixing with gemsbok and zebra. 

1 comment:

  1. One of the highlights of our animal viewing was seeing the pronking springbok. It seems like an impossible movement for a four-legged animal!