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Springbok

The springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) is a medium-sized brown and white antelope-gazelle of southwestern Africa. It is extremely fast and can reach speeds of 100 km/h (62 mph) and can leap 4 m (13 feet) through the air. The common name “springbok” comes from the Afrikaans and Dutch words spring = jump and bok = male antelope or goat.

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 scent of sweat. This ritual is known as stotting or pronking from the Afrikaans meaning to boast or show off.

Springboks are slender, long-necked antelopes, with a total length of 150 to 195 cm (59 to 77 in), and horns present in both sexes. Adults are between 70 and 90 cm (28 and 35 in)[6] tall at the shoulder, depending on weight and gender; they weigh between 30 and 44 kg (66 and 97 lb) for the females and 33 and 48 kg (73 and 106 lb) for the males. The tail is 15 to 30 centimetres (5.9 to 11.8 in) long.

Their colouring consists of a pattern of white, reddish/tan and dark brown. Their backs are tan-coloured and they are white beneath, with a dark brown stripe extending along each side from the shoulder to inside the thigh. The face is white in adults, with a dark patch on the forehead, and a stripe running from just above the eyes to the corner of the mouth. The hooves and horns are black, and the tail is white with a black tuft at the tip.

Rams are slightly larger than ewes, and have thick horns; the ewes tend to have skinnier legs and longer, more frail horns. The horns are, however, of similar shape in both sexes, with a hook-like tip that curves inwards, and a series of rings along their length. The average horn length for both genders is 35 cm (14 in), with the record being a female with horns measuring 49.21 centimetres (19.37 in). Springbok footprints are narrow and sharp, and are 5.5 cm (2.2 in) long. springbok are distinguished from gazelles in that they only have two premolar teeth in each side of each jaw, instead of three, and therefore a total of twenty eight teeth, rather than thirty.

There are three variations in the color of springbok pelage. In addition to the normal-coloured springboks there are also black and white morphs. Although born jet black, adult “black” springboks primarily have two shades of chocolate-brown and a white marking on the face. White springboks are predominantly white with a very light brown coloured side stripe.

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