Cape grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis)

loading
Cape grysbok
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Cape grysbok fact file

Cape grysbok description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCetartiodactyla
FamilyBovidae
GenusRaphicerus (1)

Despite being relatively common in parts of South Africa, the small and alert Cape grysbok is seldom seen (1). The coat of this elusive antelope is reddish brown, flecked with white hairs that give it a grizzled appearance (2) (3). Down the neck and flanks, the white hairs are less numerous and the underparts are a much lighter shade of brown (2). Large, pointed ears are positioned prominently on the black-tufted crown and the male has short, slightly curved horns. A subtle feature that distinguishes the Cape grysbok from the other small South African antelope is a pair of rudimentary ‘false hooves’ above and behind the hooves of the hindlegs (2) (3).

Size
Shoulder height: 54 cm (2)
Tail length: 5.5 cm (2)
Weight
10 kg (2)
Top

Cape grysbok biology

The Cape grysbok is mainly nocturnal and relies on an acute sense of smell, hearing and touch to navigate the dense bush safely and efficiently at night (3). During the day it rests, but is sometimes active in the early morning or late afternoon, if there is little disturbance (2) (3). Normally solitary, the Cape Grysbok is entirely dependant on its own cunning and is an expert in avoiding detection and evading danger. When under perceived threat, rather than running, it hides motionless in the vegetation and will not flee until the last moment (3) (4) (5). If chased, it will bolt in an erratic zigzag run that is extremely tricky for a pursuer to follow (5).

Although the Cape grysbok is predominately a browser, it will also graze on succulent grass and enter into plantations to feed on young shoots and fruit (1) (3). Remarkably, while this species will drink water when available, it does not require free water but derives all necessary hydration from its food (1) (3) (4).

Male Cape Grysbok will mark out well-defined territories in several ways including urinating and defecating in dung-piles, scraping the dung with their hooves, and marking stalks and grass stems with a scent produced by preorbital glands. Furthermore, rival males will fiercely defend a territory by actively fighting each other with their horns (3) (4). Although breeding can take place at any time during the year, most lambs are born between September and December following a gestation period of around seven months (4). Under good conditions a sexually mature female will give birth to two lambs a year, which are weaned after around 3 months (3) (4). Along with mating, this is the only other time that Cape grysbok are not solitary (2).

Top

Cape grysbok range

Endemic to South Africa, the Cape grysbok is widespread and locally common within coastal regions of the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces (1) (3).

Top

Cape grysbok habitat

The Cape grysbok is almost entirely restricted to the dense scrub vegetation that comprises the fynbos biome. It is frequently found in belts of natural vegetation fringing agricultural areas such as vineyards and is known to enter into these areas to forage. Although this species does occur in the grasslands of the north-eastern Cape, it only does so where there is nearby cover in the form of forest fragments or clumps of bush (1) (2).

Top

Cape grysbok status

Classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

Top

Cape grysbok threats

While the Cape grysbok has a relatively restricted range and there have been localised declines in its population due to habitat loss, there are currently no major threats to this species. It remains relatively common, and across most of its range the population is stable (1). Controversially however, one of the few areas its numbers are declining is the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape where uncontrolled escalations in the elephant population has eliminated much of the dense vegetation favoured by the Cape grysbok (1) (6).

Top

Cape grysbok conservation

The Cape grysbok occurs within seven National Parks, numerous formal conservation areas, and is widely distributed on private land. As long as it continues to be protected within conservation areas and is well represented on private land, the conservation status of the Cape grysbok should not change (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Top

Find out more

To find out more about conservation in the Western Cape, South Africa visit:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
Top

Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Fynbos
The natural shrubland vegetation occurring in the southwestern and southern Cape of South Africa, holding the greatest diversity of plant species in the world. Fynbos is characterised by tall shrubs with large leaves, heath-like shrubs, wiry reed-like plants, and bulbous herbs.
Gestation
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Nocturnal
Active at night.
Preorbital glands
An organ that produces a secretion, situated in front of the eye socket.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Stuart, C. and Stuart, T. (2001) Field guide to the mammals of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  3. Mills, G. and Hess, L. (1997) The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  4. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  5. Burton, M. and Burton, R. (2002) International Encylopedia of Wildlife. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, New York.
  6. Marris, E. (2007) Africa conservation: Making room. Nature, 488: 860 - 863.
X
Close

Image credit

Cape grysbok  
Cape grysbok

© Nigel J. Dennis / www.photoshot.com

NHPA/Photoshot Holdings Ltd
29-31 Saffron Hill
London
EC1N 8SW
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7421 6003
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7421 6006
sales@photoshot.com
http://www.photoshot.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Cape grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog RSS