I tried warning you awhile back that you will be seeing more and more African animals as I get more and more excited for my trip to South Africa later this year. I found out the other day that the Springbok is the National animal of South Africa so you knew it was going to find its way to Wild Facts at some point (although I did have to be reminded about it today). As you can tell from the picture the Springbok is a type of antelope. In fact in Afrikaans or Dutch “Spring” means Jump while “Bok” means Antelope or Goat.
This brown and white antelope stands about 70 – 87 cm (28-34″) tall and can weigh up to 50 kg (110 lbs) with the males typically being larger than the ladies. An interesting feature of the Springbok has to be the flap of skin lined with white hair that extends from the middle of their back down to their rump. What in the world could this flap of skin be used for? I know it is weird, eh? Well I guess it isn’t too weird to the Springbok since this flap comes in handy when they are trying to attract a mate or ward off a potential predator. You see when they are trying to do either of these things they will perform a ritual called pronking. Yes, I said pronking! Basically, they will repeatedly leap in the air. This leaping causes this white flap along their back to be exposed which shows off their strength and fitness to the onlookers. As well this action causes a honey-smelling odour produced by special glands under this flap to be exposed. It is a very distinctive odour and probably drives the lady Springbok crazy. I wouldn’t want to try that honey trick in North America as you are liable to attract a big, hungry bear!
If you are like me and want to watch these graceful antelope in action then I suggest you start planning a trip to Southwestern Africa. They can be found through the northwestern portion of South Africa and extending through the Kalahari desert into Namibia and Botswana.
Springbok Fast Fact – If their pronking trick doesn’t work to get rid of a predator they will resort to the old fashion technique of running. Usually they will simply extend their necks, put their ears and horns back and start motoring out of danger at speeds of up to 80 km/hr (50 mph). Personally, I would probably just start with the running instead of messing around with the whole pronking thing but to each their own.
Well I guess I will pronk on out of here. Enjoy the rest of your day!