Klipspringer: the Adorable ‘Rabbit’ Antelope of Africa


photo: Flickr user Frik Erasmus1

photo: Gail Dixon

photo via: worldisround.com

photo: Munificent


photo: czs.org

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo via Zooborns


photo: aazk.org

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo via Zooborns

Habitat: Africa
Status: Least Concern 
Hopping around on African rocky kopjes are relatively small (reaching around 22 inches at the shoulder) antelope called Klipspringers (Oreotragus oreotragus). The word Klipspringer literally means ‘rock jumper’ in Afrikaans/Dutch and coloquially the creatures are even called mvundla, from Xhosa “umvundla”, meaning “rabbit”. I think it’s literally the perfect name for it, because doesn’t the word klipspringer just jump right off your tongue, as if it’s hopping out itself? Klip!springer!

This antelope species is absolutely adorable with its huge eyes! I’m also quite fond of them because of a special characteristic unique in the animal kingdom. While all hoofed animals walk “on the tips of their toes,” Klipspringers are the only ones to touch the ground with the very, very tips of their vertically rising hooves. Using a human analogy here, we can say that Klipspringers are much like dancers that dance on their toe nails rather than the tips of their toes. Since their habitat contains steep cliffs and rocky mountains, these tiny specialized hoofs allow them to stand on even the smallest outcrop of rock.

Take a look at the Klipspringer’s incredible posture here: