With rangers Reynecke and Carl in attendance, a group of us set off on a game drive recently. The two young ladies with us had a whole list of animals they wanted to see, and Carl promised them that we wouldn’t be returning to camp without having seen at least 14 different animals species! Quite a tough task to accomplish, you might think…but we managed to see 23!
We spotted this beautiful steenbuck (commonly known as “steenbok”) ram, and I was able to get a nice photo of it, even though these skittish loners usually don’t give you enough time to even lift your camera before darting off into the bushes. As it happens, I hand-reared a baby steenbok ram just like this one when I was 12 years old. These little buck have a power and strength that belies their small stature, and their short, straight horns can do quite a bit of damage to someone or something that tries to take them on!
Steenbok are territorial, and warn potential intruders away by marking their territory with dung middens. When a steenbok wants to urinate or defecate, it prepares a light dent in the sand using its front hooves and, after using this little hole, it covers it again. When it senses danger, a steenbok will lie motionless, unless it is flushed out of its hiding place. If a predator comes closer, a steenbok will leap away and follow a zigzag route to try and shake off the pursuer. Escaping steenbok frequently stop to look back, and flight is alternated with prostration during extended pursuit. They are known to take refuge in the burrows of aardvarks. Known predators include the African wildcat, caracal, jackal, leopard, martial eagle and python.
Steenbok are not dependent on water, as they get enough liquid from their diet of foliage, seedpods, tender grass and berries.
Failing light prevented us from getting photos of the many animals we saw, but a great time was had by all!
‘Til next time,