The klipspringer is a unique, small antelope. The name klipspringer is Afrikaans, and literally translated it means ‘rock jumper’. As the name suggests, these little creatures live a mountainous lifestyle and are highly adapted to a rocky habitat. Extremely agile, they can move swiftly across rocky outcrops, hillsides and steep ledges. Because they are so fast and agile, they cover distances quite quickly and when chased by a predator, they may need to stop from time to time to determine where the predator is. To warn others, they will give loud nasal whistles when running from a disturbance. Being as small as only 50 – 60cm in height, they can be prey to a wide range of larger animals, ranging from predators such as leopard, to hyena, baboons and big birds of prey.
Usually you’ll find them in pairs or small family groups. The adult ram will be territorial, marking areas with dung middens and glandular secretions from the pre-orbital gland. ‘Pre’ meaning ‘in front of’ and ‘orbital’ meaning ‘eye’, it is visible as two big, dark blotches positioned in front of the eye. With this gland they can be seen marking twigs and branches to give off information. Ewes also ‘mark’, but not as often as the males will do.
Klipspringers have a grizzled appearance due to the structure of their hair, which is quite different from most other antelope. The coat of the klipspringer, which is yellowish grey, also acts efficient as camouflage against rocks, and is coarse and thick with hollow, brittle hairs. This helps against the cold wind against rocky mountain sides, but also prevents potential damage to the skin when sprinting around boulders like only klipspringers can do!