28-29 Feb: South African President Thabo Mbeki will host his French counterpart Nicholas Sarkozy on a State Visit to South Africa

21-22 Feb: South Africa - India Joint Ministerial Commission, Pretoria, South Africa
20 Feb: 2008 National Budget Speech by the Minister of Finance, Trevor A Manuel
19 Feb: South Africa - Kuwait Bilateral Political, Economic and Trade Relations, Cape Town, South Africa
14 Feb: Response of President Thabo Mbeki to the Debate of the State of the Nation Address
08 Feb: President Thabo Mbeki's State of the Nation Address
DFA Photo Gallery
Avian Influenza: Fact Sheet and Advice for Travellers
Media Statements
DFA Now Newsletter
Strategic Plan, 2007 - 2010
Annual Reports
Department's Publications
Cabinet Meeting Statements
South African Yearbook 2004/5
South African Government Online
International Marketing Council
South African Tourism
Proudly South African
South Africa - Official Gateway
Southern African Development Community
South African National Symbols
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
African Union
Celebrating South Africa's progressive role at the United Nations.
Pictorial Pages 01 to 11
Pictorial Pages 12 to 21
Pictorial Pages 22 to 31
Pictorial Pages 32 to 41
Pictorial Pages 42 to 50


last updated: 22 February, 2008 10:13 AM    

The Springbok

The SpringbokThe Springbok (Afrikaans: spring = jump; bok = antelope, deer, or goat) (Antidorcas marsupialis) is a small brown and white gazelle that stands about 75 cm high. The males can weigh up to 50 kg and the females up to 37 kg. The Latin name marsupialis derives from a pocket-like skin flap which extends along the middle of the back on to the tail. The springbok can lift this flap, which makes the white hairs underneath stand up in a conspicuous 'fan'.

Typical of this species is the pronk (jumping display), which led to its common name. Both sexes have horns but those of the ram are thicker and rougher. This species has adapted to the dry, barren areas and open grass plains and is thus found especially in the Free State, North West province and in the Karoo up to the west coast of South Africa.

They are herd animals and move in small herds during winter, but often crowd together in bigger herds in summer. They eat both grass and leaves and can go without drinking-water, because they get enough moisture from the succulent leaves. Where drinking-water is available they will use it.

The springbok was a national symbol of South Africa under white minority rule (including a significant period prior to the establishment of Apartheid). It was adopted as a nickname or mascot by a number of South African sports teams, most famously by the national rugby team. It appeared on the emblems of the South African Air Force, the logo of South African Airways (for which it remains their radio callsign) and the Coat of Arms of South Africa. It also featured as the logo of 'South Africa's Own Car', the Ranger, in the early 1970s.

The Springbok remains the national animal of South Africa.

After the demise of apartheid, the ANC government decreed that South African sporting teams were to be known as the Proteas, however, the rugby team still maintain the name Springboks after the intervention of then-president Nelson Mandela, who did so as a gesture of goodwill to the mainly white (and largely Afrikaner) rugby supporters.


  • Antelope Specialist Group (1996). Antidorcas marsupialis.
  • 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006.
  • Brownell, FG, Nasionale en Provinsiale Simbole. 1993. Johannesburg: Chris van Rensburg Publications.
  • GCIS
  • Wikipedia
Disclaimer | Contact Us
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa