An Elusive Antelope
I am constantly reminded that any wildlife experience is not always about the so called “big” sightings, small is usually special. The Sharpe’s Grysbok (Raphicerus sharpei) is one such experience, shy and small these antelope are solitary animals except during the mating season when they can be seen in pairs. They are mainly nocturnal but can be found browsing during cool mornings and late afternoon, during the heat of the day they rest under thick shelter and this makes them difficult to sight. I have only encountered them in the northern sections of the Kruger National Park and on the few occasions this has happened I am reminded of how special the sighting is.
This image of a female Grysbok was captured in the Shingwedzi region of the park an area with suitable habitat.
Although its territorial range is large, Sharpe’s Grysbok are infrequently seen. Males and females seem to form brief associations, but the species is usually encountered singly. Only rams have horns which are 60 to 100mm in length, Sharpe’s Grysbok are principally browsers, feeding on the leaves and young shoots of shrubs and bushes. Territory is marked with dung middens, their habitat is rocky hill country, but preferring fertile zones on the lower slopes. They are extremely timid and will run away at the first sign of anything unusual, although this flight is accompanied “short stamping hops” they move well away from where the disturbance occurred before stopping (unlike Steenbok, which stop and look back). Sharpe’s Grysbok are reported to take refuge in aardvark burrows, like steenbok.
The Kruger National Park is one of my most frequented wildlife destination due to its location, the closest entrance gate at Phalaborwa is only 160 km from my home. The secret of a Kruger visit, for me anyway, is to focus on the “whole” experience; landscapes, fauna, flora, birds and species interaction. With this approach, you will always come home rewarded and soul replenished.
Mammals of Southern Africa – Burger Cilliè