Antidorcas marsupialis

Also known as the "Anti-Dork Antelope." Not really. These are springbok.

The springbok has four remarkable characteristics. It is among the most dramatically colored of the antelopes, with the starkest contrast between the dark lateral stripe and the light brown (above) and white (below) fur. It is the fastest of the antelopes, by far. Lions and leopards need not apply: These are too fast for you to catch. It is one of the most rapidly reproducing of the antelopes, and will pump out little antelope babies as long as there is grass to eat. In the kalahri, where this photograph was taken, some years have very little food and other years have plenty. In years of plenty the springbok may have two or close to two and a half breeding seasons. The sprinbok has a strange skin flap along its back that it can stick up to display a dark dorsal stripe. This is done during pronking, a ritual behavior in which the animal shows of mainly to predators ("See, I am a totally tubular springbok. Don't even bother running after me."). The springbok that does not pronk is the special focus of attention for the only predator that can eat these guys on a regular basis. Which leads me to the final interesting fact about springoks: They are arguably the best tasting of the African antelopes. No kidding.

And, of course, the predator that eats them is the cheetah. Because they are so fast.

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I actually ate springbok when I was in South Africa recently (and no, it doesn't taste like chicken). The waiter was surprisingly unhelpful when I asked him how they got the meat.

They shoot them with a gun. In many areas, including some (but not all) parks where tourists go, there is a certain amount of culling. Also, if you live in S.A. you may be a hunger just as someone in the US may be. In the US you hunt white tailed deer (or whatever). In the Cape and Northern Cape Provinces and a few other spots you hunt springbok.

Comparatively (percentage wise) there is a LOT of game harvested and eaten in South Africa. The production of game rather than cattle is generally more environmentally sensible and efficient.

Some years ago I was told you could buy young springbok for R80 each (IIRC), release them on your ranch then charge tourists R500 each to shoot them. The tourists don't want the meat so that can be sold separately.

Quite a bit of game meat is available in southern Africa, managed, as far as I could tell, on a sustainable basis.

By Richard Simons (not verified) on 02 Dec 2008 #permalink

After reading the bit about lions and leopards, my first thought was of a springbok running away from a lion yelling "You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

Sometimes I'm frightened by how my mind works.