msafiri 131 hide them under the tail. Secretions from these glands are left on the soil when the animal walks, or on vegetation when it deliberately marks its territory boundary. Klipspringer, for example, scent grass and twigs by pushing their pre- orbital ( eye) glands over the ends and moving their heads to impart a sticky fluid. In each case scent deposits yield information about the antelope — identity, age, sex, social and hormonal status, for example. Staking a Claim In many antelope species, males lay claim to a demarcated " mating rights" arena. The better the territory's food resources, the better the attraction to females and, therefore, the greater the coupling opportunities for the holder. Topi only stake out during the rut, while Blue wildebeest assume temporary residence on a patch when the herd is on the move. Reedbuck, who live in pairs or family groups, claim permanent residence where food is plentiful, but where it is scarce their space is only defended during the mating season. Klipspringers and roan have been known to hold MAIN PICTURE: The Thomson's gazelle ( pictured in the Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya) can accelerate to about 80kph. TOP RIGHT: Cleaning up her act. A Defassa waterbuck tends her newborn calf, Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya. MIDDLE: Territorial marking. A Klipspringer pushes its pre- orbital glands over the ends of grass and twigs to impart a sticky fluid. BOTTOM: Grant's gazelle; a frequent sighting on the savannah.
msafiri WILDLIFE 132 the same area for many years, while eland concern themselves solely with denying others access to their " wives" in oestrus. Testosterone- charged males may demarcate their mating arena by standing prominently on mounds, horn- scraping the ground, the glandular scenting of bushes and depositing urine and faeces in open middens. Steenbok, however, are unique in that they dig shallow scrapes and lightly cover them after defecating. A buck advertises his genetic potential by parading his physique ( suitably enhanced by erected mane and up- thrust horns), roaring or barking loudly, thrashing bushes and pawing the ground. If successful, he does everything to keep his harem to himself and to butt out other males. Horn- locking confrontations between males are short but energy- sapping and potentially deadly. Before long, the constant round of self- selling, herding, courting, coupling and chasing off challengers exacts a heavy physical toll. A week or two into mating and most males are drained and unceremoniously displaced by a fresh hunk of masculinity. The Next Generation Roan antelope have no fixed breeding period, but in most other species mating is a matter of making the most of a short- lived seasonal opportunity. The greater the threat of predators, the quicker the coupling. Among springbok and Blue wildebeest, union is just a fleeting moment, often repeated and with several females. Kudu couples, however, will only join when all the conditions are right for conception. In most cases nature has determined that birthing occurs when the rains break and nutritious new shoots appear. However stories that female impala can regulate dropping their young to coincide with the first downpour are largely unfounded. Antelope births are fairly quick, as the mother is particularly vulnerable. In a wildebeest herd other females will gather round to protect a calving mother. Her newborn is on its feet in minutes and ready to run with the herd after an impressive quarter of an hour. In contrast, expectant does in a bonded pair TOP: Red lechwe make their escape through the waters of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. ABOVE: Male Greater kudu boast arguably the most majestic set of horns of all antelope.