These amazing antelopes, called klipspringers, take rock climbing to another level. Wild dogs are pretty sure-footed and persistent predators but cannot compete with these guys who seem to be able to balance on a near-vertical rock. In the below clip, we get to see their perfect adaptations for escaping predators in this kind of habitat.
Watch the Incredible Footage Below
Where Do Klipspringers Usually Live?
The klipspringer is a native species of the mountains of eastern and southern Africa. You can find them from the Red Sea Hills to the Cape and even north to Angola. The center of their distribution is the Ethiopian highlands but there are also isolated populations in Nigeria and the Central African Republic.
Their habitats are areas of rocky terrain, especially the kopje areas – these are distinctive rock features of the Serengeti landscape. However, they can also thrive in riverbeds, rocky hills, and outcrops. In mountains, they can live at 13,000 feet.
Why Are Klipspringers So Good at Climbing?
Over thousands of years, the klipspringer’s body has adapted to cope with the challenges of living in a rocky environment. They have a stocky body with large hindquarters. This gives them the power for a bounding gate that predators find tricky to follow.
Their most impressive skill, however, is their sure-footedness on rocks. This is all down to the physiology of their feet. The last joints of the digits are rotated. This means that they are essentially walking on the tips of their hooves. As they walk, the hooves wear down to a cylindrical shape. Also, the center has a rubbery texture that is very useful for gripping rocks. The combination of small size and a grippy surface, allows them to land on rock edges that are no bigger than a coin.
Which Animals Are the Most Sure-Footed?
Animals that live in rocky, mountainous habitats are generally the most sure-footed. Several species are admired for their rock-climbing skills including the ibex and the big-horn sheep. However, the mountain goat is generally regarded as one of the most sure-footed species on the planet. This is because they have cloven hooves with two toes. These toes can spread apart which gives them excellent balance. Also, the toes have rough pads at the bottom to give excellent grip. It’s like wearing an amazing climbing shoe!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/EcoPic
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