Steenbok

A tiny wonder of the animal kingdom that embodies both elegance and resilience

Profberger

One of the most striking features of the Steenbok is its beautiful russet-colored coat, which provides excellent camouflage against the backdrop of the savanna and bushveld. This natural concealment is crucial for its survival, allowing it to blend into the environment and evade the notice of predators. The contrast of its white underbelly adds to its delicate appearance, creating a visual distinction that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. This coloration helps regulate body temperature by reflecting sunlight and serves as a warning signal to other Steenbok when fleeing from danger.

The males of the species are distinguished by their slender, straight horns, which, although not used for digging or fighting as in some other antelope species, serve as a significant marker of sexual dimorphism. These horns add to the overall elegance of the Steenbok, enhancing its silhouette against the African landscape. Despite their appearance, these horns are robust and can be a formidable tool when necessary.

Agility and speed are among the Steenbok’s most remarkable traits. This antelope can execute sudden, bounding leaps and darting runs, maneuvers essential for escaping predators in an environment where cover can be sparse. Their small size enables them to make quick turns and dashes that larger animals cannot, making them elusive targets. This agility is complemented by their keen senses—sharp vision, acute hearing, and a sensitive sense of smell—which collectively play a vital role in their survival strategy, allowing them to detect predators from a distance and react swiftly.

Beyond their physical attributes and survival tactics, Steenboks exhibit fascinating behavioral adaptations. They are primarily solitary animals, with individuals occupying and defending territories. These territories are marked by secretions from preorbital glands located near their eyes and by dung middens, which serve as both a territorial marker and a communication tool between individuals. The Steenbok’s diet is as adaptable as its behavior; it feeds on various plants, including leaves, shoots, and fruits, and has been observed engaging in geophagy—eating soil to supplement minerals.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
2016
Botswana
2016
Eswatini
2016
Kenya
2016
Lesotho
Official estimate
EX
Extinct locally
Mozambique
2016
Namibia
2016
South Africa
2016
Tanzania
2016
Zambia
2016
Zimbabwe
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No