Klipspringer

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Klipspringer
Klipspringer.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Antilopinae
Genus: Oreotragus
A. Smith, 1834
Species:
O. oreotragus
Binomial name
Oreotragus oreotragus
(Zimmermann, 1783)
Subspecies

See text

Klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus distribution map.png
Klipspringer range
Synonyms [2]
List
  • O. cunenensisZukowsky, 1924
  • O. hyatti Hinton, 1921
  • O. klippspringer(Daudin, 1802)
  • O. saltator(Boddaert, 1785)
  • O. saltatricoidesNeumann, 1902
  • O. saltatrixoides(Temminck, 1853)
  • O. steinhardtiZukowsky, 1924
  • O. typicusA. Smith, 1834

The klipspringer ( /ˈklɪpˌsprɪŋər/ ; Oreotragus oreotragus) is a small antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of its genus, the klipspringer was first described by German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1783. The klipspringer is a small, sturdy antelope; it reaches 43–60 centimetres (17–23+12 inches) at the shoulder and weighs from 8 to 18 kilograms (18 to 40 pounds). The coat of the klipspringer, yellowish gray to reddish brown, acts as an efficient camouflage in its rocky habitat. Unlike most other antelopes, the klipspringer has a thick and coarse coat with hollow, brittle hairs. The horns, short and spiky, typically measure 7.5–9 cm (3–3+12 in).

Contents

Typically 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 m (16 ft) of each other at most times. Males form territories, 7.5–49 hectares (18+12–121 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.

The klipspringer inhabits places characterised by rocky terrain and sparse vegetation. Its range extends from northeastern Sudan, Eritrea, Somaliland and Ethiopia [3] in the east to South Africa in the south, and along coastal Angola and Namibia. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) classifies the klipspringer as Least Concern. There are no major threats to the survival of the klipspringer, as its habitat is inaccessible and unfavourable for hunting. Significant numbers occur on private farmlands. As of 2008, nearly 25% of the populations occur in protected areas throughout its range.

Taxonomy and etymology

The scientific name of the klipspringer is Oreotragus oreotragus /ˌɔːriˈɒtrəɡəs/ , from Greek ὄρος (óros), "mountain", and τράγος (trágos), "he-goat". It is the sole member of the genus Oreotragus and classified under the family Bovidae. The species was first described by German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1783. [2] The vernacular name "klipspringer" is a compound of the Afrikaans words klip ("rock") and springer ("leaper"). Another name for this antelope is "klipbok". [4]

A 2012 phylogenetic study showed that the klipspringer is closely related to Kirk's dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii) and the suni (Neotragus moschatus). The klipspringer evolved nearly 14 million years ago. The cladogram below is based on this study. [5]

Tragelaphus

Suni (Neotragus moschatus)

Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus)

Kirk's dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii)

Cephalophus

Philantomba

As many as 11 subspecies have been identified, though zoologists Colin Groves and Peter Grubb treat a few of them as independent species in a 2011 publication: [6] [7] [8]

Description

Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) head.jpg
head of male
Klippspringer001, crop.jpg
head of female

The klipspringer is a small, sturdy antelope reaching 43–60 cm (17–23+12 in) at the shoulder. The head-and-body length is typically between 75 and 115 cm (30 and 45 in). It weighs from 8 to 18 kg (18 to 40 lb). [6] The klipspringer is sexually dimorphic; females are slightly larger and heavier than the males. [7] [9] The tail measures 6.5–10.5 cm (2+124+14 in). [6] Prominent facial features include the brown forehead, short ears marked with black, prominent preorbital glands near the eyes, and white lips and chin. The horns, short and spiky, present only on males, typically measure 7.5–9 cm (3–3+12 in); the maximum recorded horn length is 15.9 cm (6+14 in). [7] [9]

The coat of the klipspringer, yellowish gray to reddish brown, acts as an efficient camouflage in its rocky habitat; the underbelly is white. [10] Unlike most other antelopes, the klipspringer has a thick and coarse coat with hollow, brittle hairs. [11] The incisors might even get damaged by the hairs while grooming. [12] However, the coat is a significant adaptation that saves the animal during steep falls and provides effective insulation in the extreme climates characteristic of its mountain habitat. [11] A study showed that ticks occur in larger numbers on the underbelly, where the hair is less coarse. [12] The hair often turns erect, especially if the animal is ill or if its temperature increases. [6] Another feature unique to the klipspringer is its gait; it walks on the tips of its cylindrical, blunt hooves. [9] [10] This enhances the grip on the ground, enabling the animal to deftly climb and jump over rocky surfaces. [11]

The subspecies vary in coat colour – from golden yellow in the Cape klipspringer, Ethiopian klipspringer, golden klipspringer and Transvaal klipspringer to ochre or rufous in the Maasai klipspringer, Stevenson's klipspringer and Zambian klipspringer. Cape klipspringer populations tend to have the largest males, while Maasai klipspringer exhibit the largest females. [8]

Ecology and behaviour

Klipspringers demonstrating typical lookout (rear) and feeding (front) pair behaviour Klipspringer pair.jpg
Klipspringers demonstrating typical lookout (rear) and feeding (front) pair behaviour

Typically nocturnal (active mainly at night), the klipspringer rests during the midday and at late night; the animal tends to be more active on moonlit nights. It basks in the morning sunlight to warm itself. [6] A gregarious animal, the klipspringer, like the dik-diks and the oribi, exhibits monogamy to a much greater extent than other antelopes; individuals of opposite sexes form pairs that might last until one dies. [13] [14] The mates tend to stay as close as within 5 m (16 ft) of each other at most times; for instance, they take turns at keeping a lookout for predators while the other feeds, and face any danger together. The klipspringer will hop a few metres away from the danger. [13] [14] Other social groups include small family herds of 8 or more members or solitary individuals. Klipspringer greet one another by rubbing cheeks at social meetings. [15]

Males form territories, 7.5–49 hectares (18+12–121 acres) large (the size depends on rainfall patterns), in which they stay with their partners and offspring. [16] Males are generally more vigilant than females. Klipspringer form large dung heaps, nearly 1 m (3 ft 3 in) across and 10 cm (4 in) deep, at the borders of territories; another form of marking is the secretion of a thick, black substance, measuring 5 mm (14 in) across, from the preorbital glands onto vegetation and rocks in the territories. [11] [17] A study revealed that the tick Ixodes neitzi detects and aggregates on twigs marked by the klipspringer. [18] Another study showed that plants near the borders with neighbouring territories are particularly preferred for marking. [19] The main vocalisation is a shrill whistle, given out by the klipspringer pair in a duet, as a means of communication or anti-predator response. Predators include the baboon, black-backed jackal, caracal, eagle, leopard, martial eagle, serval, spotted hyena and Verreaux's eagle. [6] [20] Birds such as familiar chats, pale-winged starlings, red-winged starlings and yellow-bellied bulbuls have been observed feeding on ectoparasites of klipspringer. [20]

Diet

Primarily a browser, the klipspringer prefers young plants, fruits and flowers. Grasses, eaten mainly in the wet season, form a minor portion of the diet. Some plants, such as Vellozia , may be preferred seasonally. Klipspringer depend mainly on succulent plants, and not on water bodies, to meet their water requirement. [6] [7] They can stand on their hindlegs to reach tall branches up to 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in) above the ground; some individuals in Namibia were observed climbing Faidherbia albida trees up to a height of 5.4 m (17 ft 9 in). [20]

Reproduction

The klipspringer is a seasonal breeder; the time when mating occurs varies geographically. Females become sexually mature by the time they are a year old; males take slightly longer to mature. Mating behaviour has not been extensively observed. [6] [7] Gestation lasts around six months, following which a single calf, weighing slightly more than 1 kg (2 lb), is born; births peak from spring to early summer. Births take place in dense vegetation. The newborn is carefully hidden for up to three months to protect it from the view of predators; the mother suckles it three to four times a day, the visits gradually lengthen as the offspring grows. Males are protective of their offspring, keeping a watch for other males and predators. [6] [7] The calf is weaned at four to five months, [20] and leaves its mother when it turns a year old. The klipspringer lives for around 15 years. [6] [7]

Habitat and distribution

Klipspringers inhabit mountainous regions with sparse vegetation. Oreotragus oreotragus.jpg
Klipspringers inhabit mountainous regions with sparse vegetation.

The klipspringer inhabits places characterised by rocky terrain and sparse vegetation. It migrates to lowlands at times of food scarcity. The klipspringer occurs at altitudes as high as 4,500 m (15,000 ft) on Mount Kilimanjaro. [6] [21] The klipspringer can occur at high population densities in favourable habitats extending over a large area; 10 to 14 individuals occur per square kilometre in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. However, the habitat is typically rocky over long stretches and grassy terrain is discontinuous; consequently the population density is typically between 0.01 and 0.1 individual per square kilometre. [1]

The antelope occurs in significant numbers across eastern and southern Africa; its range extends from northeastern Sudan, Eritrea, northern Somalia and Ethiopia in the east to South Africa in the south, and along coastal Angola and Namibia. Smaller populations occur in the northern and western highlands of Central African Republic, southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Jos Plateau and east of Gashaka Gumti National Park in Nigeria. It is feared to be extinct in Burundi. [1] [21]

Threats and conservation

The hooves seen close-up Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) feet.jpg
The hooves seen close-up

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) classifies the klipspringer as Least Concern. [1] The klipspringer is hunted for its meat, leather and hair. [22] However, there are no major threats to the survival of the klipspringer, as its habitat is inaccessible and unfavourable for hunting. Moreover, the antelope does not have to compete with livestock, that do not frequent montane areas. However, populations at lower altitudes are more vulnerable to elimination. [21]

In 1999, Rod East of the IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group estimated the total population of klipspringer at 42,000. Significant numbers occur on private farmlands. As of 2008, nearly 25% of the populations occur in protected areas such as the Simien and Bale Mountains National Parks (Ethiopia); Tsavo East and West National Parks (Kenya); North and South Luangwa National Parks (Zambia); Nyika National Park (Malawi); Namib-Naukluft National Park (Namibia); and Matobo National Park (Zimbabwe). [1] [21]

Related Research Articles

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Sitatunga Species of swamp-dwelling antelope

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Greater kudu Species of woodland antelope

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Common eland Second largest antelope in the world

The common eland, also known as the southern eland or eland antelope, is a savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Taurotragus. An adult male is around 1.6 metres (5') tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 942 kg (2,077 lb) with an average of 500–600 kg (1,100–1,300 lb), 340–445 kg (750–981 lb) for females). It is the second largest antelope in the world, being slightly smaller on average than the giant eland. It was scientifically described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1766.

Sable antelope Species of mammal

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Hartebeest grassland antelope

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Waterbuck Species of antelope

The waterbuck is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa. It is placed in the genus Kobus of the family Bovidae. It was first described by Irish naturalist William Ogilby in 1833. Its 13 subspecies are grouped under two varieties: the common or ellipsiprymnus waterbuck and the defassa waterbuck. The head-and-body length is typically between 177 and 235 cm and the typical height is between 120 and 136 cm. A sexually dimorphic antelope, males are taller and heavier than females. Males reach roughly 127 cm (50 in) at the shoulder, while females reach 119 cm (47 in). Males typically weigh 198–262 kg (437–578 lb) and females 161–214 kg (355–472 lb). Their coat colour varies from brown to grey. The long, spiral horns, present only on males, curve backward, then forward, and are 55–99 cm (22–39 in) long.

Royal antelope Species of mammal

The royal antelope is a West African antelope, recognized as the world's smallest antelope. It was first described by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758. It stands up to merely 25 centimetres (10 in) at the shoulder and weighs 2.5–3 kilograms (5.5–6.6 lb). A characteristic feature is the long and slender legs, with the hindlegs twice as long as the forelegs. Horns are possessed only by males; the short, smooth, spiky horns measure 2.5–3 centimetres (1.0–1.2 in) and bend backward. The soft coat is reddish to golden brown, in sharp contrast with the white ventral parts. In comparison to Bates's pygmy antelope, the royal antelope has a longer muzzle, broader lips, a smaller mouth and smaller cheek muscles.

Antilopinae Subfamily of mammals

The Antilopinae are a subfamily of Bovidae. The gazelles, blackbucks, springboks, gerenuks, dibatags, and Central Asian gazelles are often referred to as true antelopes, and are usually classified as the only representatives of the Antilopinae. True antelopes occur in much of Africa and Asia, with the highest concentration of species occurring in East Africa in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania. The saigas and Tibetan antelopes are related to true antelopes (Antilopinae) and goats (Caprinae), but often placed in their own subfamily, Saiginae. These animals inhabit much of central and western Asia. The dwarf antelopes are sometimes placed in a separate subfamily, Neotraginae, and live entirely in sub-Saharan Africa. The antilopinae are a subfamily of bovidaes that roam the East African savannas, they have acclimated to possess wider insertion muscles to enable them to avoid predators in the open savanna.

Bohor reedbuck Species of mammal

The bohor reedbuck is an antelope native to central Africa. The animal is placed under the genus Redunca and in the family Bovidae. It was first described by German zoologist and botanist Peter Simon Pallas in 1767. The bohor reedbuck has five subspecies. The head-and-body length of this medium-sized antelope is typically between 100–135 cm (39–53 in). Males reach approximately 75–89 cm (30–35 in) at the shoulder, while females reach 69–76 cm (27–30 in). Males typically weigh 43–65 kg (95–143 lb) and females 35–45 kg (77–99 lb). This sturdily built antelope has a yellow to grayish brown coat. Only the males possess horns which measure about 25–35 cm (9.8–13.8 in) long.

Oribi Species of mammal

The oribi is a small antelope found in eastern, southern and western Africa. The sole member of its genus, it was described by the German zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann in 1783. Eight subspecies are identified. The oribi reaches nearly 50–67 centimetres (20–26 in) at the shoulder and weighs 12–22 kilograms (26–49 lb). It possesses a slightly raised back, and long neck and limbs. The glossy, yellowish to rufous brown coat contrasts with the white chin, throat, underparts and rump. Only males possess horns; the thin, straight horns, 8–18 centimetres (3.1–7.1 in) long, are smooth at the tips and ringed at the base.

Kirks dik-dik Species of mammal

Kirk's dik-dik is a small antelope native to Eastern Africa and one of four species of dik-dik antelope. It is believed to have six subspecies and possibly a seventh existing in southwest Africa. Dik-diks are herbivores, typically of a fawn color that aids in camouflaging themselves in savannah habitats. According to MacDonald (1985), they are also capable of reaching speeds up to 42 km/hour. The lifespan of Kirk's dik-dik in the wild is typically 5 years, but may surpass 10 years. In captivity, males have been known to live up to 16.5 years, while females have lived up to 18.4 years.

Dibatag Genus of mammals

The dibatag, or Clarke's gazelle, is a medium-sized slender antelope native to Ethiopia and Somalia. Though not a true gazelle, it is similarly marked, with long legs and neck. It is often confused with the gerenuk due to their striking resemblance. The typical head-and-body length is about 103 to 117 cm. They stand up to about 80 to 90 cm. Male dibatag weigh between 20 and 35 kg, whereas females range from 22 and 29 kg. The length of the curved horns, present only on males, is typically between 10 and 25 cm. The upper parts are gray to fawn, while the dorsal and lateral areas are cinnamon to rufous. The underparts, rump and the insides of the legs are all white. While markings are visible on the face, there are none on the flanks or the buttocks.

Southern reedbuck Species of mammal

The southern reedbuck, rietbok or common reedbuck is a diurnal antelope typically found in southern Africa. It was first described by Pieter Boddaert, a Dutch physician and naturalist, in 1785. It is placed in the genus Redunca and family Bovidae. This antelope has an average mass of 58 kg (128 lb) and a body length of about 134–167 cm (53–66 in).

Mountain reedbuck Species of mammal

The mountain reedbuck is an antelope found in mountainous areas of much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Sharpes grysbok Species of mammal

Sharpe's or northern grysbok is a small, shy, solitary antelope that is found from tropical to south-eastern Africa.

Steenbok Species of mammal

The steenbok is a common small antelope of southern and eastern Africa. It is sometimes known as the steinbuck or steinbok.

Neotragini Tribe of mammals

The tribe Neotragini comprises the dwarf antelopes of Africa:

Salts dik-dik Species of mammal

Salt's dik-dik is a small antelope found in semidesert, bushland, and thickets in the Horn of Africa, but marginally also in northern Kenya and eastern Sudan. It is named after Henry Salt, who discovered it in Abyssinia in the early 19th century.

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