Springbok… an animal of a few colours…

The springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) is a medium-sized brown and white antelope. 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 = goat.

So we have a fast moving, high jumping springing goat….. But what I saw at an outing with my SiL was for me a first….

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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……

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There are three variations in the colour 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…..

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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 call sign) and It also featured as the logo of ‘South Africa’s Own Car’, the Ranger, in the early 1970s.

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After the demise of apartheid, the African National Congress government decreed that South African sporting teams were to be known as the Proteas after the national flower of South Africa. ..

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During the Second Boer War, a Boer force attempting to sneak up on the Royal Canadian Dragoons was defeated after their movements startled the nearby springbok, thus alerting the Canadian sentries, which is why the Dragoons have the springbok as their cap badge and as their mascot…..

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61 thoughts on “Springbok… an animal of a few colours…

    • That I suppose is true… but considering the springbok should have been on our side I think they were a tad unfair…lol… I found the whole conection between the two so fascinating and have continued to research the subject… they thought that the springbok emblem made it to their badge for the reason I’ve given is questioned by the present CO… but no one seems to be able to settle on which is the true story behind it… so I’m sticking to what I read…

      • I think it makes for a great story of how an African animal makes it on the emblem of a Canadian military troop 🙂
        I guess I had never really given it any thought before which is why the story is so interesting!

  1. What a fascinating history! Really, thank you for that! And I love the photo of the “springing” Springbok. I have never seen one in action before and I previously thought the “spring” would be a leap or jump. No, he really springs into action, doesn’t he! Fantastic!

    • The action is called pronking… and it is not an easy picture to catch… this photo is a borrowed one, mine was not as good… I thought you might enjoy the history side of the post…

  2. I always enjoy learning more about the animals in your part of the world, but also really love hearing more about your homeland. Your photos are exquisite, especially the springbok you captured in midair. 🙂

    • Thanks LuAnn… this was a special find for me as there is not much left for me to see and capture on camera… They also have a Zonkey on this farm that I never managed to find, so I will have to return to get photos of that…. (A zonkey is a cross between a zebra and a donkey)

  3. Wow, some very brave competitors, bulldog. What an interesting challenge, and I have to admit I also enjoyed seeing the ones who fell off the track. 🙂 The look on that giraffe’s face, says it all. “Those humans on wheels, are a crazy bunch!” 😆

  4. Great photos Bulldog, especially the springing Springbok. They are always great to see when featured on TV and no doubt even better in the flesh.

  5. They are stunning Rob and as usual you’ve captured them perfectly! Amazing shots my friend. I just love it! 😀

  6. Marvelus creatures and fascinating history about them, especially how they got on the flag and the changes in South African sports.

  7. I am still pro that sign and violently anti the stupid conversion into flippin’ flowers! Even though I am definitely pro tea as well as coffee. If they had switched to a black springbok emblem maybe everyone would have wound up happy? 🙂

  8. Adding to the Royal Canadian Dragoons story: They also have a connection to the town of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands (Holland).
    Nice little bokkie, Bulldog.

    • Found a copy of the “Springbok” the RCD’s magazine telling the story of their connection to Leeuwarden in the Netherlands…. also a very interesting poem on their three VC medal earners in the battle of liliefontein during the Boer War… what an interesting magazine….

  9. I like that last bit of info about the springbok ruining the sneak in the Boer War. Great photos. When I saw the picture of the one that is jumping, the word “Boing!” popped into my head.

    • This was a first for me… I’d heard of the black morph but never seen it…. strange that a South African antelope would have two morphs a black and a white… something that has affected our country its whole life long….

        • There is probably no bigger symbol of South Africa than our Springbok which the ANC government discarded, even though many of their own had worn blazers of teams representing our National pride in sport…. Obviously they saw this as a white mans symbol and for this reason discarded it, whereas you also get the black and white morphs, representing both colours of our nation… I find it quite amusing in hind sight,,, even though this is the first time I’ve seen one…

  10. Amazing you get to be so close! I saw that documentary called “Africa” and it showed these little guys springing all over the place. They are very springy!

  11. Hi Rob,
    These are gorgeous photos. We have springboks at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, and I have always loved to watch them, but I never knew any of the history or background, which is fascinating and unexpected. Another great post!

    • Thanks Ingrid… never knew another country had a South African antelope as their mascot….but I suppose anything that saves your life becomes quite special….

  12. Can you imagine what went through the minds of the boer force when the springbok got startled? Something along the lines of “I hate when that happens” …

  13. Ag Nee Man, even the Springbok has been corrupted 😦 Is this for real Bulldog, never heard of the black Springbok before? Laura

    • Laura… this brought a big smile to my face when I read your comment…. yes the talk of having so many selected to be in the teams has been prevalent in the antelope for years…. I had heard of this buck but never seen one…. now I have, a multiracial animal….

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