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Springbok

From Academic Kids

Springbok
Conservation status: Vulnerable

Springbok in Etosha National Park, Namibia
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Artiodactyla
Family:Bovidae
Subfamily:Antilopinae
Genus:Antidorcas
Species:marsupialis
Binomial name
Antidorcas marsupialis
(Zimmermann, 1780)

The Springbok (Afrikaans: spring = jump; bok = antelope, deer, or goat) (Antidorcas marsupialis) is a small brown and white antelope that stands about 75 cm high. The males can weigh up to 50 kg and the females up to 37 kg. The Latin name marsupialis derives from a pocket-like skin flap which extends along the middle of the back on to the tail. The springbok can lift this flap, which makes the white hairs underneath stand up in a conspicuous 'fan'.

Springboks inhabit the dry inland areas of central and western Southern Africa. They used to be very common, but numbers have recently diminished due to an increase in hunting and more land being fenced off as farm land.

Pronking

Springboks often go into bouts of repeated high leaps (up to 4m - 12 feet) into the air in a practice known as "pronking" (Afrikaans: pronk = to show off) or "stotting". While pronking, the springbok leaps back into the air as soon as it comes down, with its back bowed and the white fan lifted. The exact cause of this behaviour is unknown, springboks exhibit this activity when they are nervous or otherwise exited. One theory is that pronking is meant indicate to predators that they have been spotted, another is that springboks show off their individual strength and fitness, so that the predator will go for another, weaker, member of the group. When fleeing from a predator, springboks do not pronk, but rather run at speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour).

National symbol

The springbok was a national symbol of South Africa under white minority rule (including a significant period prior to the establishment of Apartheid). It was adopted as a nickname or mascot by a number of South African sports teams, most famously by the national rugby team. It appeared on the emblems of the South African Air Force, the logo of South African Airways (for which it remains their radio callsign) and the Coat of Arms of South Africa. It also featured as the logo of 'South Africa's Own Car', the Ranger, in the early 1970s.

The Springbok is currently the national animal of South Africa.

After the demise of apartheid, the ANC government decreed that South African sporting teams were to be known as the Proteas. The rugby team still maintain the name Springboks, however, after the intervention of then-president Nelson Mandela, who did so as a gesture of goodwill to the mainly white (and largely Afrikaner) rugby supporters. However, the emblem issue ocassionally resurfaces, and leads to much controversy.

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