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This small antelope is a favourite amongst many nature enthusiasts. It may be due to the sheer reward of seeing one as the klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus), has mastered the uncanny art of blending into its environment.

The klipspringer derived its name from its ability to jump from rock to rock, its preferred habitat being that of mountainous, rocky and hillside by nature. Its translation from Afrikaans literally means “rock jumper”. The natural range of the klipspringer is in eastern and southern Africa. It does not share its genus with any other antelope.

Size wise, the klipspringer stands about 55 centimetres at the shoulder and its average mass is around 12 kilogrammes, females being slightly heavier than males. The course haired yellowish grey-brown coat affords it excellent camouflage in rocky terrain. Horns grow to about 10 centimetres in length. The hooves are physically adapted to be down-pointing, to ensure sure-footed agility on the rocks.  

Klipspringers form long-lasting pair bonds, looking out for each other by feeding in shifts so that the individual on watch can alarm call if any immediate threat is detected. The alarm call is a sharp high pitched whistle. Predators include caracal, leopard, and large birds of prey. Gestation is approximately six months, after which a single calf is born.

Diet is mainly browse material, grass is eaten rarely. Berries, flowers, fruit, seeds, and leaves are the preferred foods. Klipspringers can survive long periods without water but will drink readily when available. Regarded as nocturnal, klipspringers are active at night, resting up during the warmer hours of the day.   

Territory size is related to rainfall, as rainfall increase the territory size becomes smaller. Dung heaps or middens are formed at the borders of territories. Klipspringers spend a great deal of time maintaining their territories.

Its conservation status as listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is “Least Concern” because it has a wide distribution with insignificant signs of habitat loss. Its habitats are mostly remote and generally inaccessible.   


10 More Interesting Facts about the Klipspringer:

  • Historically, the fur was sought after to line horse saddles.
  • In the eastern part of their range, females also have horns.
  • Recently reintroduced successfully into Table Mountain National Park.
  • Its other name is klipbok.
  • It is closely related to the dik-dik and the suni.
  • The coat hairs are hollow and provide for excellent insulation.
  • Scent marking from preorbital glands assists with territorial marking.
  • New-born klipspringers are hidden in dense vegetation.
  • Longevity in the wild is around 15 years.
  • Klipspringers are adaptable to live at low and high altitudes.

A pair of klipspringers in typical pose keeping a watchful eye

A male klipspringer, note the pronounced cylinder type shape of the hooves and downward pointing, and the preorbital gland next to the eye.

A female klipspringer resting up


Facts researched from the internet, text by John Llewellyn.
Pictures courtesy of Viv Newell.