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Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) standing on top of a rock in northern Kruger National Park, South AfricaKlipspringer

(Oreotragus oreotragus)

This tiny antelope has a lot of personality. It stands about 21 inches high at the shoulder (that’s only as high as my knee!) and spends its days leaping from rock to rock and climbing incredibly steep cliffs. Klipspringer means “rock jumper” in Afrikaans, one of the languages in South Africa where I shot this photo.

It is the only antelope that stands on “tippy-toe”. The hooves are truncated and point directly downward, allowing them to put all four feet together on the tiniest cliff ledges. In fact, they can put all four hooves into a circle little more than an inch across; not much bigger than a U.S. quarter!

Klipspringers are monogamous and remain together their entire lives until one of the pair dies. The two stay near each other at all times, rarely more than five to ten yards apart! When one is feeding, the other one stands watch. If danger threatens, they bound away up into the cliffs where terrestrial predators can’t reach. But this antelope is so tiny it must also stay vigilant for an aerial predator: eagles!

Photographed in northern Kruger National Park, South Africa