Springbuck are a small antelope that have a body length between 1.2 and 1.4 m (4 – 4.5 ft), a shoulder height between 74 and 89 cms (29 – 35 inches), a tail length between 15 and 30 cms (6 – 12 inches) and they weigh between 30 and 48 kgs (66 – 105 lbs).
They are reddish brown in color with a pale underside. On each of their flanks they have a dark brown stripe that separates their brown upper parts from their underside. Their head is white and they have a dark brown stripe that runs from each eye down to their upper lip.
They have a pocket-like skin flap that runs from the middle of their back to their tail. When they are excited or frightened they can lift this flap which makes the white hairs underneath stand up in a conspicuous crest that acts as a warning to other Springbok.
Springbok have ringed, curved, black horns that are present in both males and females. They can reach lengths of 48 cms (19 inches) in males, but females have shorter, thinner horns.
Springbok are known to leap up to 4 m (13 ft) in the air in an activity known as pronking. While in the air their body is curved, and their legs are stiff, close together and point downwards. Upon landing they immediately leap upwards again and during this period the crest on their back is raised. It is unknown why they pronk but it is possible they do it to indicate to predators that they have been spotted.
When required Springbok can reach speeds up to 90 km/hr (56 mph) and they are among the top ten fastest land animals in the world.
Springboks are found in the grasslands and semi-arid regions of southern Africa. During the breeding season females, their offspring and a dominant male are found in herds together and bachelor herds are formed by non-breeding males.
Springbok used to migrate in huge herds consisting of over 1 million individuals known as a “trek” or “trekbokken”. Today most Springbok are confined to game reserves and privately owned land but in remote areas of Angola and Botswana groups of 1,500 individuals can still be seen.
Springbok feed on grasses and other vegetation. Their diet changes depending on the season; eating grass when water is available but switching to other more water rich plants, such as flowers, when water is scarce.
There are three subspecies of Springbok:
Antidorcas marsupialis angolensis
Antidorcas marsupialis hofmeyri
Antidorcas marsupialis marsupialis
The name Springbok in Afrikaans and Dutch means:
spring – jump
bok – antelope, deer or goat
The Latin name “marsupialis” is derived from the pocket-like skin flap on their rump.