Scientific Name Oreotragus oreotragus
Conservation Status Least Concern
Klipspringers have a coat made up of coarse hairs which can sometimes damage their teeth. They can range in colour from yellow-brown to grey or ochre. The underside is white as are the insides of the ears. These colours allow them to blend in with their habitat. The nose, the hooves and the edges of the ears are black. They also have a noticeable black pheromone gland beside their eyes.
They have short, black horns with an average length of 9cm (3.5in) with one recorded reaching 16.2cm (6.4in). Most subspecies are sexually dimorphic with the males sporting horns and the females lacking them. One population does have horns present on both sexes.
At the shoulder the klipspringer stands 43-60cm (17-24in) tall. Males are typically larger than females. An average head to body length is between 75cm and 115cm (2.5-3.8ft). The tail adds between 7 and 13cm (3 and 5in) to this length. Their weight varies from 10-18kg (22-40lb).
The average lifespan of the klipspringer is 15 years but one in captivity survived for 18 years.
Klipspringers are herbivorous animals. Their diet is made up of grasses, leaves, fruits, herbs, twigs, bark and lichens. To reach taller foliage they can stand upon their hind legs.
As water is scarce in their natural habitat the klipspringer draws most of its water requirements from eating succulent plants. They will also obtain dew off of plants as well. When free water is available they will also make use of it.
Africa is the native home of the klipspringer. They can be throughout Angola, Botswana, Democratic republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
They make their home in rocky habitats such as mountain sides, kopjes or river gorges. A range of adaptions help them with mountain life such as their hooves. These feature a rubbery centre to help with grip and a tough outer edge which keeps them firmly planted. When food is hard to find they will also migrate to lowlands.
Breeding takes place from August to September in most populations but can vary across their range. Males and females live together year round with their last offspring.
Males show dominance by arching the neck and making a low hum.
6 months after a successful mating the mother will give birth to a single young. This is left hidden amongst vegetation or in rocky alcoves where it will remain for the next 3 months. It is visited three to four times a day by its mother who gives it milk.
Males take on a protective role keeping predators and other klipspringers away from their young.
It will continue to receive milk until it is weaned during the fourth or fifth month of life.
Sexual maturity occurs at 7 months old. Males remain with their parents for roughly 6 months after birth whereas a female will still be with their parents at 11 months old.
Klipspringers are nocturnal animals. They will rest through the day or sunbake to warm up. They tend to complete most of their activity before midnight.
They form a family unit of a male and a female with their latest offspring. On occasion they will form larger groups made up of a number of families. One animal will stand lookout so the other can feed. Their relationships are maintained through calling and territorial markings.
They have an alarm call which resembles a whistle similar to that of a trumpet.
Predators of the klipspringer include leopards, caracals, spotted hyenas, jackals, wildcats, foxes, baboons, eagles and servals. They also come into competition with domestic goats which can threaten them. On rare occasions they can cause problems to farmers and will be hunted but this rare.
They have a symbiotic relationship with a range of birds. These remove parasites from the fur of the klipspringer.
Klipspringer is name derived from two Afrikaans words. Klip for rock and springer for leaper. So there name means ‘rock leaper’. The scientific name for the klipspringer, Oreotragus oreotragus comes from oreos, for mountain and tragos for he-goat.
It is the only member in the genus Oreotragus with its closest relatives being the suni and Kirk’s dik-dik.
They are also referred to as the ‘klipbok.’
The klipspringer was first described in 1783 by a zoologist from Germany.
Top – By MONGO (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Middle – I, Munificent [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Bottom – By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons