Steenbok – The Smallest Antelope of the Kruger National Park
Of all the antelope found in the Kruger National Park, the Steenbok is the smallest. Weighing only about 15kg makes these animals difficult to spot in the bush. If you are lucky you will spot one just before it scampers off into the bush.
They are usually found alone, spending most of the day in search of food. Steenbok are herbivores and feed on leaves, tubers, flowers and fruit. They get most of the moisture they need from their food and can go for long periods without a drink of water.
Appearance and Lifestyle
Because of the size of the Steenbok, it is often referred to as a dwarf antelope. Steenbok are white on their underside and the rest of its body is a pale red-orange colour. For their size, they have unusually large ears which are more predominant in the females as the males have small horns. Females are usually slightly larger than males. Both male and female steenbok can live up to six years in the wild. The Steenbok is a solitary animal which makes them quite territorial. They are not too fussy about their habitat and are as happy in the open savannah as they are in woodland areas provided there is enough cover to hide them from predators.
The Steenbok couple mates for life, sharing the same territory, an area from .50 to 1 square kilometre. In this area, they will forage, find shelter and raise their young. Both male and female Steenbok will mark their area by either urinating or defecating around the boundary and then covering the area with sand, much like a cat. By covering it, the dung or urine is kept moist and the scent then lasts longer. They do this on a regular basis until it forms a visible border around their area.
Steenbok have a gestation period of about five and a half months and usually give birth at the start of the rainy season. Normally Steenbok have only one or on rare occasions two calves. The Steenbok keeps their young well hidden for the first two weeks of their lives.
Steenbok have the most predators because of their size. They are preyed on by caracals, servals, jackals and every other wild cat found in the Kruger National Park. The baby Steenbok is so small that it often falls prey to snakes, foxes and birds. The only defence a Steenbok has is to either hide or flee from the threat. When the Steenbok spots a predator it will first conceal itself in the long grass. And the, at the right moment, they will sprint away, often changing direction very sharply or suddenly which does give them a bit of an advantage.
The best time to spot a Steenbok is in the early morning or late afternoon, while on a guided game drive as these bucks lie down in the grass under a tree in during the hottest time of the day but they will forage at the cooler times in the day.