20 June 2014

A Day On The Beach

Seeing wild animals on the beach always fascinates me. It feels like a glimpse of times gone by.

A herd of Springbok (Springbok - Antidorcas marsupialis) on the beach at Koeberg Nature Reserve

That is why I really enjoyed seeing this herd of Springbok chilling on the beach.

These photos were taken with my mobile phone, so I couldn't zoom in and I didn't want to ruined their relaxing morning on the beach by getting any closer

Springbok are fairly famous antelope. So famous that they have the same name in English and Afrikaans. They are our national animal (what ever that might mean) and even made their way into the Canadian Army.

In sports, in the past, when you represented the country in international competitions you got Springbok Colours, which were oddly enough green and gold. However, these days only the rugby team is still known as the Springbok team, the rest are now known as Protea teams, in particular the cricket team. How the confusion around sport team names helps anybody or how these animals got dragged into political and racial (apartheid) disputes I'll never understand.

Luckily this blog isn't interested in sports or politics. It is all about animals and camera trap photos!

The Eland that re-adjusted this camera trap personally assured me that the photos looks better when the horizon isn't horizontal, so I hope you don't mind either...

Despite the famousness of the Springbok Koeberg was the first place for me to camera trap them. This is also then their first appearance on this blog.

Interestingly Springbok aren't "native" to the southern coast of South Africa. They have been introduced throughout the country in areas outside their historic and natural range. This made me wonder where I've encountered them before, so I fired up WildLog to see what sightings I've recorded in recent years.

Distribution map for Springbok, the red shape is the natural range and the small squares are my recent sightings

If you know the South African countryside then you will notice from their distribution map that that Springbok prefer the drier areas associated with the interior and north-west of the country.

I read that in the Kalahari desert the Springbok don't like to go onto sandy ground and won't easily enter the sand dunes. This made me wonder about the Springbok I saw on the beach, but then again not many of us can resist taking some time off to relax on the beach every now and again.

But usually, at Koeberg, the Springbok always seem to be in the same parts of the reserve. For example, they don't seem to move around the reserve as much as the Eland or Duiker do, both of which were found historically in the area. When I think about it I always see Springbok in areas of the reserve with reasonably firm soil. I've never seen any in the truly sandy areas (except for this one sighting of them relaxing on the beach).

I don't know what this fellow is doing with his hind legs but it looks fun

The reserve has a fair number of Springbok and having all of them focus their feeding on only a small section of the reserve can have a negative impact on the vegetation and biodiversity of those areas. It might be interesting to ask the reserve staff about this...

Springbok are fast animals, and are capable of reaching speeds of up to 90 km/h. They also love to pronk (also known as stotting), especially the youngsters. So I guess if you like to run away fast or start jumping around for any number of random reasons, then preferring to have some nice firm ground under your hooves makes sense.

A female Springbok gracing us with her presence

In Springbok both male and females have horns, but the horns on the males are much thicker. Springbok are a type of Gazzelle (not by genus, but by spirit). They are in fact the only Gazzelle species in southern Africa, but there are many more species that are found throughout the rest of Africa.

This youngster must be skipping school or up to some no good, sneaking around like this!

While the huge herds of Springbok that would migrate across the interior of the country might be gone for good, we are still fortunate to have them around. They can still be found throughout the country, often being farmed for their meat (making excellent biltong) or kept on commercial farmland and nature reserves because of their popularity.

This camera trap photo gives a good view of the Springbok's curved horns

At first glance the above photograph looked like one of those "if only" shots. "If only it was a nice sunny day..." "If only there wasn't moisture on the lens..." Etc. But I still like it like this. It reminds me of those old photographs, or one of those photographs people like to take these days with crappy cameras to produce photos with "arty noise".

No comments:

Post a Comment