Klipspringer on Table Mountain National Park
Klipspringer (translated to Rock Jumper) is a small species of antelope naturally occuring in Southern Africa. In Cape Town they are one of four small antelope species occurring in the Table Mountain National Park, from Cape Point to Table Mountain. Klipspringers as their name suggest have adapted to rocky terrain and they therefore occupy that habitat type. They are unique in that they have pointed hooves with hard edges and rubbery centres which provide excellent grip in rocky terrain. This adaptation allows them to outsprint land predators (like Rooikat) over rocky terrain.
Klipspringer are monogamous so you normally see pairs together although small family groups of 3-4 are not uncommon. They also tend to be territorial and mark their territory with dung middens as well as by the use of the preorbital scent glands which gives off a blackish paste. Males stand prominently on rocks to show territorial dominance. They are diurnal and most active during the mornings and early evenings when they feed, this time of day is vital for them to browse to ensure they receive enough moisture from their food whilst also ensuring they do not fall prey to any predators.
Conservation status in Table Mountain National Park
Klipspringer were extinct on the Cape Peninsula in the 1930’s largely due to hunting practices, but also believed to have been displaced by the Himalayan Tahr in the North of Table Mountain National Park. Reintroduction of the species began in 1999 and the last animal to date was released in 2003, in total 56 animals were released on the Table Mountain National Park. Most of the animals survived and quickly established territories. The exact number of Klipspringer in the Table Mountain National Park is not known, but could be anything between 50-80. Unfortunately they are not an easy species to count via aerial surveys. A habitat suitability study suggests that the most suitable habitat for the species on the Cape Peninsula is Table Mountain, Constantiaberg and Swartkopberg. The population in the Cape of Good Hope Section of the Park is estimated to be around 40. Here they have minimal interference from people and dogs. A few Klipspringer has also been spotted on Elsies Peak. Although hunting is not a threat anymore, displacement by Himalayan Tahr is still a threat where their habitat overlaps. Dogs can also be seen as a threat to Klipspringer survival in Table Mountain National Park in areas where dogs are left to run off leashes, the dogs will inevitably chase the Klipspringer which can result in displacement.
If you spot a Klipspringer on a hike anywhere between Cape Point and Signal Hill, let the Table Mountain National Park know. This adds valuable data to the Ecologists of SANParks and could aid in the future management of the species within the Park. You can email the Cape Research Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org