They came as if from nowhere, beautiful and graceful, running and jumping in their own unique way called ” pronking ” ( literally translated to display). They ran and jumped past us with even the smallest of the group imitating the adults’ pogo sticklike jumps. We were still gasping with awe when they returned with their display for a second time.
They are called Springbuck, meaning jumping buck and they are the national animal of South Africa. It is generally believed that springbuck display their bouncing ball behaviour for joy of living. Yesterday as it was after the first good rainfall of the season I chose to believe it too.
Scientifically however there are other reasons for the “pronking” behaviour of the Springbuck. It is a common response to predators; those that jump higher or at a faster rate, are fitter and faster, a fact the predator should recognise and so pick out a weaker victim . It is also for purposes of orientation, as the springbok can take in their physical surroundings, and the position of predators and other springboks . There is a social role too; the fold of skin on the back produces a secretion with a strong, sweet odour that can be released while” pronking” , and thus sends out visual and olfactory messages to other springbok.
After a few minutes of delightful display the springbuck disappeared in the bush not to be seen again. This incident took place while we were on our weekly walk in the Moreletta Nature Reserve. It left me in awe and filled with joy. If only I was younger I might have joined them jumping for joy.
I leave you with this verse from the psalmist as I believe God gave us the rain, He made the grass grow and He sent the springbuck to show us the joy of life.
Psalms 147:8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
What makes you jump for joy?