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Physical Characteristics

  • Head and body length: 70-95 cm
  • Shoulder height: 45-60 cm
  • Tail length: 5-10 cm
  • Adult weight: 7-16 kg

Steenbok are petite antelope, with long legs and an upright stance. The coat is a light golden-brown color, although there is some variation among individuals with some being quite reddish and others more gray. The undersides are white. Steenbok have few distinctive markings: the large eyes are ringed by a fine circle of white hairs, and there is a slender black triangle which starts at the nose and tapers upwards. The ears are extremely large. The horns, found only in males, are straight, sharp, and very upright. They will grow 7-19 cm long.

Similar species

  • Gray duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia) are similar in size and color to steenbok, but are typically more grizzled (grayer) in appearance. The face of the gray duiker is usually marked by a black blaze which runs from the top of the head right down to the nose; it also has smaller, more slender ears.
  • Oribi (Ourebia ourebi) are similar in color and form to the steenbok, but are larger and more slender. There is a distinctive black patch at the base of the ear, and no black on the front of the face.

Reproduction and Development

  • Gestation period: 170 days
  • Litter size: 1
  • Weaning: 3 months
  • Sexual maturity: Females as early as 6-7 months, males begin to mature around 9 months
  • Life span: 10-12 years

Baby steenbok may be born throughout the year, and can stand and walk just a few minutes after birth. However, the infant is usually hidden away by its mother for a few weeks before beginning to follow her around.

Ecology and Behavior

Steenbok tend to be most active during the day, although when temperatures peak at midday they may seek refuge in shade. This species appears to live in monogamous pairs which share a territory some 4-100 hectares in size - however, the two animals are usually found apart and only come together to breed. The territory is marked by both sexes by using dung heaps. When threatened, steenbok will hide by lying on the ground and freezing in order to avoid the danger. If the threat continues to approach, they will rocket away for a short distance and then try to hide again. Aardvark burrows may be used as refuges.

  • Family group: Solitary, although a stable pair (which meets up solely for breeding) shares one territory
  • Diet: Mostly leaves from shrubs and trees, but also fruits and grasses
  • Main Predators: All major predators, including wild cats (both large and small) and pythons. Infants may be hunted by smaller predators such as jackals, raptors, monitor lizards, and baboons.

Habitat and Distribution

Steenbok are found in open grassland with light tree cover across most of southern Africa. Another population lives in the stonier acacia grasslands of east Africa. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN Red List: Least concern (2008)
  • CITES Listing: Not listed (2009)
  • Threats: None major; hunting by domestic dogs or herdsman may be a localized threat in some areas

The estimated total population of steenbok is over 600,000 animals.

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