Springboks hold a special place in the heart of every South African as it is the country's national animal and the name of their national rugby team.
A magnificent sight in the bush is most certainly watching the springbok jump. Their name literally translates to "jump antelope". When they jump, they arch their back and their feet come together as they leap gracefully through the bush. This is done purely as a manner of showing off and is a bit of a playful taunt to its predators.
Black springbok also occur, but are rarer. This distinction in colour is merely due to an excess of melanin, which gives them their darker appearance. The black springbok usually do not live as long, because their darker colour makes them more conspicuous during the day and thus they cannot camouflage and protect themselves by blending into their environment. This melanistic aspect can also be found in leopards and cheetahs. When the opposite occurs, the animal is known as an albino – an example being the white lion.
Springbok are abundant at Inverdoorn and even black springbok can be found.
The springbok (Afrikaans and Dutch: spring = jump; bok = antelope or goat) (Antidorcas marsupialis) is a medium-sized brown and white gazelle of southwestern Africa. It stands about 70 to 90 cm (28 to 35 in) high. Springbok males weigh between 33 and 50 kg (73 and 110 lb) and the females between 25 and 40 kg (55 and 88 lb). They can reach running speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph), to 97 km/h (60 mph) and can leap 4 m (13 feet) into the air and long jump up to 15 m (50 feet).
The specific epithet marsupialis (Latin: marsupium, "pocket") derives from a pocket-like skin flap which extends along the middle of the back from the tail onwards. When the male springbok is showing off his strength to attract a mate, or to ward off predators, he starts off in a stiff-legged trot, jumping up into the air with an arched back every few paces and lifting the flap along his back. Lifting the flap causes the long white hairs under the tail to stand up in a conspicuous fan shape, which in turn emits a strong floral scent of sweat. This ritual is known as pronking from the Afrikaans, meaning to boast or show off.
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