The Steenbok has a white abdomen and the fur is pale red-orange. There are some differently-colored patches of fur too, more specifically on the bottom side, neck and legs. Unlike other antelopes in the region, the Steenbok has really large ears and some white lining. That alone makes them very easy to identify amongst other antelopes in the region.
Normally you will notice that females are a little larger when compared to males. A ram has 10.9 kg on average, but females can go up to 11.3 kg. Also, males come with straight horns that can be anywhere from 9 to 19 cm in length.
Range & habitat
You can find the Steenbok in a multitude of locations all over South Africa. This includes the plateau as well as the mainland. You can also find the Steenbok in Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and so on. There are no Steenbok in the Namib desert, but you can find many of them in the southern region of Mount Kenya. In fact, you can also find some in the national Kruger park.
It’s said that there are around 600,000 individuals, so the Steenbok population is really high and there’s no need to worry about extinction or anything close to that. Instead, they are constantly growing in numbers, even if their species is already bringing in a hefty population.
You will notice that Steenboks tend to live in a rather unconventional habitat. They are found in savanna areas and woodlands, open habitats that are not exactly ideal for this type of animal. We say that because they would normally need to have some way to conceal themselves from the predatory eyes. That alone makes the Steenbok extremely interesting and one of the most impressive animals out there since they adapt to a variety of living locations.
What they focus on the most is going to locations where there’s enough water and vegetation, pivotal things for their survival. If they can go in such a place without a lot of predators, that’s obviously amazing. It won’t happen all the time, unfortunately, but they do go to ideal living places anyway despite having predators nearby. You can usually find the Steenbok in dense areas that have a lot of trees or long grass. They are adaptive to the environment, which explains why there are out there in such high numbers to begin with.
The Steenbok is known for being a browser, and it likes forbs a lot. It enjoys young leaves, as well as shoot tips from plants, fruits, and flowers.
One thing to note is the fact that it can exist without a lot of water, which is why we have a large population of Steenboks and a massive habitat as well. They will eat bulbs, tubers, and roots during the dry months in order to retain their moisture content. This explains why you can find lots of Steenboks out there because they don’t have a very special diet, and that’s something you can easily see right from the start.
Behaviour & lifestyle
The Steenbok is a territorial and solitary animal. Yes, you won’t always see Steenboks in groups, which is interesting for antelope, since most of them like being in a group. Once they find their mate, they will stay together until they die, they will not breed with other Steenboks. The territory size for a Steenbok can be anywhere from 0.04 km to 1 square km in size. This is where they find shelter, raise their young Steenbok and reproduce. A Steenbok will leave urine and excrements as a sign that it’s their territory. They mark their territory often, which allows them to not get involved into all kinds of challenging situations often. That’s very important to take into consideration, especially for this type of animal.
One thing to note about the Steenbok breeding is that they don’t really have a specific breeding season. In fact, there are year-round births happening, yet another reason behind the large population. That being said, the gestation period is of around 7 months, and a single lamb gets born. The lamb will stay with his mother concealed for up to 4 months. During this time she will eat the urine and feces from the lamb, eliminating odors and keeping predators away.
What you will notice about the Steenbok is that most of their males are known to use telephone lines and roads as boundaries for their territory. Like most antelopes out there, these ones also have excellent hearing, so they can easily identify any type of animal that wants to attack them in any way. In some cases, we saw Steenboks scavenging meat from carcasses if there’s a shortage of food. This type of behavior is very rare, but it can happen in some extreme situations.
When the Steenbok encounters a predator, the main focus is to lay low. Due to the Steenbok’s small size, predators might end up not seeing them when they lay low. In case the predator is indeed close, the Steenbok will just follow a zig-zag route in order to shake everything off. Some Steenboks are actually taking refuge in the Aardvarks burrows. The main Steenbok predators are pythons, martial eagles, leopards, caracals, Southern African wildcats and jackals.
It’s important to understand that Steenboks are very agile and they will live even in challenging locations that aren’t normally suitable for them. They are independent animals, they retain a single mate during their lifetime and they can be rather aggressive and territorial too. These animals stand out with their resilience and the fact that they got to adapt to new environments just to stay alive!
Meet the steenbok
Have you ever had the opportunity to see the super steenbok on an African safari? Let us know in the comments below!
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