Steenbok

Last updated

Steenbok
Raphicerus campestris male (Etosha, 2012).jpg
Raphicerus campestris female (Etosha, 2012).jpg
Male and female in Etosha N. P.
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Antilopinae
Genus: Raphicerus
Species:
R. campestris
Binomial name
Raphicerus campestris
Thunberg, 1811
Steenbok distribution.svg
  Distribution based on 1970s data. [2]

The steenbok /ˈstnbɒk,ˈstn-/ [lower-alpha 1] (Raphicerus campestris) is a common small antelope of southern and eastern Africa. It is sometimes known as the steinbuck or steinbok.

Contents

Description

Steenbok phylogenetic relationships (simplified) Steenbok evolution tree.svg
Steenbok phylogenetic relationships (simplified)

Steenbok resemble small oribi, standing 45–60 cm (16"–24") at the shoulder, and weigh 7-16 kg. Their coat is any shade from fawn to rufous, typically rather orange. The underside, including chin and throat, is white, as is the ring around the eye. Ears are large with "finger-marks" on the inside. Males have straight, smooth, parallel horns 7–19 cm long (see image left). There is a black crescent-shape between the ears, a long black bridge to the glossy black nose, and a black circular scent-gland in front of the eye. The tail is not usually visible, being only 4–6 cm long.

Distribution

There are two distinct clusters in steenbok distribution. In East Africa, it occurs in central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. It was formerly widespread in Uganda, [2] but is now almost certainly extinct there. In Southern Africa, it occurs in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Eswatini, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and probably Lesotho.

Habitat

Steenbok live in a variety of habitats from semi-desert, such as the edge of the Kalahari Desert and Etosha National Park, to open woodland and thickets, including open plains, stony savannah, and Acacia grassland mosaics. They are said to favour unstable or transitional habitats. [5] At least in the central part of Kruger National Park, South Africa, Steenbok show a distinct preference for Acacia tortilis savannah throughout the year, with no tendency to migrate to moister areas during the dry season (unlike many larger African savannah ungulates, including species sympatric with Steenbok in the wet season). [6]

Population density is typically 0.3–1.0 individuals per square kilometre, reaching 4 per km2 in optimal habitats. [7]

Diet

Steenbok typically browse on low-level vegetation (they cannot reach above 0.9 m [8] ), but are also adept at scraping up roots and tubers. In central Kruger National Park, Steenbok show a distinct preference for forbs, and then woody plants (especially Flueggea virosa ) when few forbs are available. [6] They will also take fruits and only very rarely graze on grass. [6] They are almost entirely independent of drinking water, gaining the moisture they need from their food.

Behaviour

Steenbok are active during the day and the night; however, during hotter periods, they rest under shade during the heat of the day. The time spent feeding at night increases in the dry season. [9] While resting, they may be busy grooming, ruminating or taking brief spells of sleep. [10]

Anti-predator

Steenbok typically lie low in vegetation cover at the first sign of threat Steenbok sitting.jpg
Steenbok typically lie low in vegetation cover at the first sign of threat

At the first sign of trouble, steenbok typically lie low in the vegetation. If a predator or perceived threat comes closer, a steenbok will leap away and follow a zigzag route to try to shake off the pursuer. Escaping steenbok frequently stop to look back, and flight is alternated with prostration during extended pursuit. They are known to take refuge in the burrows of aardvarks. Known predators include Southern African wildcat, caracal, jackals, leopard, martial eagle and pythons.

Breeding

Steenbok are typically solitary, except for when a pair come together to mate. However, it has been suggested [5] that pairs occupy consistent territories while living independently, staying in contact through scent markings, so that they know where their mate is most of the time. Scent marking is primarily through dung middens. Territories range from 4 hectares to 1 square kilometre. The male is aggressive during the female's oestrus, engaging in "bluff-and-bluster" type displays with rival males—prolonged contests invariably involve well-matched individuals, usually in their prime. [10]

Breeding occurs throughout the year, although more fawns are born November to December in the southern spring–summer; some females may breed twice a year. Gestation period is about 170 days, and usually a single precocial fawn is produced. The fawn is kept hidden in vegetation for 2 weeks, but suckles for 3 months. Females become sexually mature at 6–8 months and males at 9 months.

Steenbok are known to live for 7 years or more.

Taxonomy

Two subspecies are recognized: R. c. campestris in Southern Africa and R. c. neumanni of East Africa; although MSW3 also recognizes capricornis and kelleni. [11] Up to 24 subspecies have been described from Southern Africa, distinguished on such features as coat colour.

Notes

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antelope</span> Term referring to an even-toed ruminant

The term antelope refers to numerous extant or recently extinct species of the ruminant artiodactyl family Bovidae that are indigenous to most of Africa, India, the Middle East, Central Asia, and a small area of Eastern Europe. Antelopes do not form a monophyletic group, as some antelopes are more closely related to other bovid groups, like bovines, goats, and sheep, than to other antelopes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Impala</span> Medium-sized antelope found in Africa

The impala or rooibok is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The only extant member of the genus Aepyceros, and tribe Aepycerotini, it was first described to Europeans by German zoologist Hinrich Lichtenstein in 1812. Two subspecies are recognised—the grassland-dwelling common impala, and the larger and darker black-faced impala, which lives in slightly more arid, scrubland environments. The impala reaches 70–92 cm (28–36 in) at the shoulder and weighs 40–76 kg (88–168 lb). It features a glossy, reddish brown coat. The male's slender, lyre-shaped horns are 45–92 cm (18–36 in) long.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Klipspringer</span> Species of mammal

The klipspringer is a small antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of its genus and subfamily/tribe, 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 at the shoulder and weighs from 8 to 18 kilograms. 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cape fox</span> Species of carnivore

The Cape fox, also called the asse, cama fox or the silver-backed fox, is a small species of fox, native to southern Africa. It is also called a South African version of a fennec fox due to its similarly big ears. It is the only "true fox" occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, and it retains primitive characteristics of Vulpes because it diverged early in the evolutionary history of the group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sitatunga</span> Species of swamp-dwelling antelope

The sitatunga or marshbuck is a swamp-dwelling medium-sized antelope found throughout central Africa, centering on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, parts of Southern Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Ghana, Botswana, Rwanda, Zambia, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The sitatunga is mostly confined to swampy and marshy habitats. Here they occur in tall and dense vegetation as well as seasonal swamps, marshy clearings in forests, riparian thickets and mangrove swamps.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sable antelope</span> Species of mammal

The sable antelope is a large antelope which inhabits wooded savanna in East and Southern Africa, from the south of Kenya to South Africa, with a separated population in Angola.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hirola</span> Species of antelope

The hirola, also called the Hunter's hartebeest or Hunter's antelope, is a critically endangered antelope species found as of now, only in Kenya along the border of Somalia. It was first described by the big game hunter and zoologist H.C.V. Hunter in 1888. It is the only living member of the genus Beatragus, though other species are known from the fossil record. The global hirola population is estimated at 300–500 animals and there are none in captivity. According to a document produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature "the loss of the hirola would be the first extinction of a mammalian genus on mainland Africa in modern human history".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gerenuk</span> Long-necked species of antelope (Litocranius walleri)

The gerenuk, also known as the giraffe gazelle, is a long-necked, medium-sized antelope found in parts of East Africa. The sole member of the genus Litocranius, the gerenuk was first described by the naturalist Victor Brooke in 1879. It is characterised by its long, slender neck and limbs. The antelope is 80–105 centimetres tall, and weighs between 18 and 52 kilograms. Two types of colouration are clearly visible on the smooth coat: the reddish brown back or the "saddle", and the lighter flanks, fawn to buff. The horns, present only on males, are lyre-shaped. Curving backward then slightly forward, these measure 25–44 cm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal antelope</span> Species of mammal

The royal antelope is a West African antelope recognized as the world's smallest. It was first described by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758. It stands up to merely 25 cm (10 in) at the shoulder and weighs 2.5–3 kg (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 cm (0.98–1.18 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blue duiker</span> Species of mammal

The blue duiker is a small antelope found in central, southern and eastern Africa. It is the smallest species of duiker. The species was first described by Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg in 1789. 12 subspecies are identified. The blue duiker reaches 32–41 centimetres (13–16 in) at the shoulder and weighs 3.5–9 kilograms (7.7–19.8 lb). Sexually dimorphic, the females are slightly larger than the males. The dark tail measures slightly above 10 centimetres (3.9 in). It has short, spiky horns, around 5 centimetres (2.0 in) long and hidden in hair tufts. The subspecies show a great degree of variation in their colouration. The blue duiker bears a significant resemblance to Maxwell's duiker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomson's gazelle</span> Species of gazelle

Thomson's gazelle is one of the best known species of gazelles. It is named after explorer Joseph Thomson and is sometimes referred to as a "tommie". It is considered by some to be a subspecies of the red-fronted gazelle and was formerly considered a member of the genus Gazella within the subgenus Eudorcas, before Eudorcas was elevated to genus status.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oribi</span> 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. While this is the only member in the genus Ourebia, 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blue wildebeest</span> Species of antelope

The blue wildebeest, also called the common wildebeest, white-bearded gnu or brindled gnu, is a large antelope and one of the two species of wildebeest. It is placed in the genus Connochaetes and family Bovidae, and has a close taxonomic relationship with the black wildebeest. The blue wildebeest is known to have five subspecies. This broad-shouldered antelope has a muscular, front-heavy appearance, with a distinctive, robust muzzle. Young blue wildebeest are born tawny brown, and begin to take on their adult coloration at the age of 2 months. The adults' hues range from a deep slate or bluish-gray to light gray or even grayish-brown. Both sexes possess a pair of large curved horns.

<i>Taurotragus</i> Genus of mammals

Taurotragus is a genus of large antelopes of the African savanna, commonly known as elands. It contains two species: the common eland T. oryx and the giant eland T. derbianus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sharpe's grysbok</span> Species of mammal

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cape grysbok</span> Species of mammal

The Cape or southern grysbok is a small antelope that is endemic to the Western Cape region of South Africa between Albany and the Cederberg mountains.

<i>Raphicerus</i> Genus of mammals

Raphicerus is a genus of small antelopes of the tribe Neotragini.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grant's gazelle</span> Species of mammal

Grant's gazelle is a relatively large species of gazelle antelope, distributed from northern Tanzania to South Sudan and Ethiopia, and from the Kenyan coast to Lake Victoria. Its Swahili name is swala granti. It was named for a 19th-century British explorer, James Grant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Red hartebeest</span> Subspecies of hartebeest

The red hartebeest, also called the Cape hartebeest or Caama, is a subspecies of the hartebeest found in Southern Africa. More than 130,000 individuals live in the wild. The red hartebeest is closely related to the tsessebe and the topi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pronghorn</span> Species of North American hoofed mammal

The pronghorn is a species of artiodactyl mammal indigenous to interior western and central North America. Though not an antelope, it is known colloquially in North America as the American antelope, prong buck, pronghorn antelope and prairie antelope, because it closely resembles the antelopes of the Old World and fills a similar ecological niche due to parallel evolution. It is the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae.

References

  1. IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2016). "Raphicerus campestris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2016: e.T19308A50193533. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T19308A50193533.en . Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. 1 2 Williams, John G. 1967. A Field Guide to the National Parks of East Africa. Collins, London. ( ISBN   0-00-219294-2)
  3. "steenbok". The Chambers Dictionary (9th ed.). Chambers. 2003. ISBN   0-550-10105-5.
  4. Matthee, Conrad A.; Scott K. Davis (2001). "Molecular Insights into the Evolution of the Family Bovidae: A Nuclear DNA Perspective" (PDF). Molecular Biology and Evolution. 18 (7). Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution: 1220–1230. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a003908 . PMID   11420362 . Retrieved 2007-06-17.
  5. 1 2 Kingdon, Jonathan. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego & London. Pp. 387–388. ( ISBN   0-12-408355-2)
  6. 1 2 3 Du Toit, Johan T (1993). "The feeding ecology of a very small ruminant, the steenbok (Raphicerus campestris)". African Journal of Ecology. 31: 35–48. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.1993.tb00516.x.
  7. Kleiman, David G. et al., Eds. 2003. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd edn. Vol. 16: Mammals V. Gale Cengage Learning. Pp. 59–72.
  8. Du Toit, J.T. (1990). "Feeding-height stratification among African browsing ruminants". African Journal of Ecology. 28: 55–61. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.1990.tb01136.x.
  9. Smithers, Reay H.N. (2000). Apps, Peter (ed.). Smithers' Mammals of Southern Africa. A field guide. Cape Town: Struik publishers. p. 197. ISBN   1868725502.
  10. 1 2 Cohen, Michael. 1976. The Steenbok: A neglected species. Custos (April 1976): 23–26.
  11. Grubb, P. (2005). "Order Artiodactyla". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 688. ISBN   978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC   62265494.