A pair of klipspringers pause momentarily to investigate the human intruders passing through their remote Namibian neighborhood.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM at 400 mm, 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

“Did you see those?”, Alison exclaimed, and I snapped my gaze to the rocky area where she was pointing. Somehow, while steering our 4-by-4 vehicle over a rugged gravel road in the middle of a vast, desolate — yet starkly beautiful — Namibian landscape, Alison managed to spy some klipspringers amongst the rocky terrain flying past our windows. She asked me if I wanted to try to photograph them and I excitedly replied, “Definitely. But I’ll need to find my camera first.” Because the roads we were driving between Windhoek (Namibia’s capital city) and Namib-Naukluft National Park (our destination) were so punishing that I feared my cameras would soon be bounced onto the truck’s floor, and because the areas we were traversing were so seemingly lifeless, I had packed every last bit of my photo gear inside my camera bag now locked in the pick-up’s covered bed.

The klipspringer (which literally means “rock jumper” in Afrikaans) is one of the smallest antelope species in the world, and in my experience they are accordingly secretive and shy. Therefore, I was not optimistic we would see those klipspringers again after bringing the vehicle to a halt, retrieving my camera bag, attaching lens to camera, u-turning the vehicle and driving the few hundred yards back to the location of the sighting. Boy, was I wrong. There they were, standing on the same rock and being extremely cooperative as Alison positioned the 4-by-4 in the optimal spot. At first, they stared at us, then the buck apparently had other things on his mind and he began intently sniffing the doe’s hind end while she continued staring at our truck. Then, as if he realized that it was not the time for romance, the buck joined the doe in locking his investigative gaze on us.

A few moments later, perhaps thinking that they tolerated our presence long enough, both klipspringers took off in a flash, zipping away through the rocky terrain at a velocity that seemed impossibly fast. Even though the encounter lasted only a few minutes from start to finish, it was totally unexpected and I feel fortunate to have had the chance to photograph this usually elusive antelope species. And to Alison a hearty, “Well spotted!”

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