Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCetartiodactyla
FamilyBovidae
GenusOreotragus (1)
SizeHead-body length: 75 – 115 cm (2)
Weight8 – 18 kg (2)

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). Subspecies: Oreotragus oreotragus porteousi (western klipspringer) is classified as Endangered (EN) (1).

This fascinating small antelope has a number of distinct features that make it well adapted to its rugged, rocky habitat (3). It is unique amongst the antelope for walking on the tips of its hooves and it has a remarkable dense, coarse coat consisting of hollow hairs that rustle when shaken or touched (2) (3). When the klipspringer is hot or sick its fur stands erect, giving the illusion of being much larger than it actually is (2). The coat varies in colour from yellow-brown to grey-yellow, with whitish underparts, chin and lips (4). In most areas only the males have horns, which are short, widely-spaced apart and ringed near the base; in the Ethiopian, Ugandan and Tanzanian populations some females may have horns too (4) (pers). The black-edged ears have white parts that catch attention when flicked (2). Numerous subspecies of the klipspringer have been described, but only one is recognised as valid for the purpose of assessing its conservation status: the western klipspringer (5).

Occurs from north-east to southern Africa, with a few isolated populations in central Africa. The western klipspringer is found in Nigeria and the Central African Republic (5)

Klipspringers inhabit rocky, stony ground with abundant short vegetation (2), from coastal hills up to elevations of 4,500 metres (4).

Klipspringers are monogamous animals that are nearly always seen in pairs, usually with one offspring. The bond between a male and female is strong and enduring; they spend most of their time within a few metres of each other with one being look-out while the other feeds, and this relationship usually lasts until one dies (3). Together the pair defends a territory in which they feed on herbs and low foliage, sometimes seeds, fruits, buds, twigs and bark, and grasses in the wet season (2) (3). Occasionally groups of eight or more klipspringers may be seen, but these quickly split back into family groups when disturbed (3).

Like many animals that live in Africa’s hot climate, klipspringers generally rest during the heat of the day, and are also generally inactive after midnight (2). The gestation period of the klipspringer is 210 days (4), after which a well-developed young is born. The young hides in vegetation for up to three months, while its mother visits three or four times a day for suckling (2).

Klipspringers are vulnerable to both hunting and competition from goats. These threats have resulted in populations in some areas being eliminated and others, particularly in agricultural regions, becoming rare (2) (5). Consequently, the western klipspringer in Nigeria and the Central African Republic has been classified as Endangered by the IUCN (1) (5).

The klipspringer has been classified as Lower Risk / Conservation Dependent because its future depends on its continued protection in many National Parks, reserves, hunting concessions and private farmland (1) (5), such as Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, a World Heritage Site (6). Large populations in very inaccessible areas are also believed to be fairly secure. However, the western klipspringer subspecies is at risk of extinction if no attempts are made to implement protective measures or begin a captive breeding programme (5), and so conservation measures are urgently required to save this distinctive and fascinating antelope.

For further information on the klipspringer see:

Authenticated (11/04/08) by Dr Jeremy David.

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Kingdon, J. (1997) The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London.
  3. Mills, G. and Hes, L. (1997) The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  4. Stuart, C. and Stuart, T. (1997) Field Guide to the Larger African Mammals of Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  5. East, R. (1999) African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  6. UNEP-WCMC: Serengeti National Park (December, 2007)
    http://www.unep-wcmc.org/sites/wh/pdf/Serengeti.pdf