South Africans were overjoyed to watch the Springbok rugby team beat Japan in the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup on Sunday – should we have to say thank you to Eskom for keeping the electricity flowing so that South Africans could watch the game? Look up Springbok on Google today and you will be bombarded with articles relating to the national rugby team – understandably so. It seems appropriate then to cast the spotlight on our national animal, the Springbok (Antidorca marsupialis).
Although the Springbok is still the most plentiful antelope in the country, records indicate that they occurred here in their hundreds of thousands before the land was occupied by settlers. Widespread hunting, as well as the establishment of farms and towns that disrupted migratory patterns have decimated their numbers over time.
They still occur naturally in large numbers in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and are popular animals to have on game farms and private reserves – the latter mean that Springbok can now be seen in areas where they have not occurred historically. Shown below is a youngster.
These antelope tend to browse during the dry season and graze when grasses are available once the rains have fallen. These hardy creatures are known to eat tubers and roots as a source of moisture when open water is unavailable open water is scarce, water requirements are met by eating moisture-rich tubers and roots.