The slight little oribi may be encountered in the safaris areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Oribis are the next members of the Dwarf Antelope family. They have long, lean necks, spiky horns that are slightly curved, lengthy, slender ears on both sides of its horns and an eye-catching ginger-red fur color all over, with its underparts such as its belly and the back of its legs a bright white and its short tail a dark shade of black. Oribis, in addition to this color scheme that covers its body, have very peculiar and geometrically shaped black dots on either sides of its head. Females exceed males in size; 14.2kg (31,2lb) on average compared to the 14kg (30,8lb) average of males, and are also usually slightly taller at 59cm compared to the 58cm males usually reach.
Oribis are very scattered within Africa, with no single continuous chain of land on which they can be found. Their range starts along the coast of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, drifting into the mainland slightly as you go through to KwaZulu-Natal and up to Mozambique. In Mozambique they are distributed across through the middle of the country to the border they share with Zimbabwe and on to Zambia. They also inhabit parts of Tanzania going north, and finally right across the face of Africa along the edge of the Sahara Desert to West Africa’s coastline. There is also a narrow streak along the coast of Kenya where they can be found.
Overall Oribis are of least concern when talking about the threat of endangerment and their conservation status, despite the fact that one of its sub-species previously found in Western Africa, already extinct. Other sub-species, such as Ourebia Ourebi haggardi, are classified as vulnerable and aren’t as numerous as Oribis more south, which most likely bring up the population of the species. 20 years ago, their populations were around 750 000 in total, but have since become less stable and have decreased slightly year after year, although an overall census has not been done that definitively proves this.
Oribis are some of the only small antelope to primarily graze, meaning they avoid areas dominated by shrubs, bushes and trees and areas of higher density. Grasslands, Open woodland areas and particularly floodplains are where they flourish as a whole, in high numbers. They prefer eating short grass, mainly due to their size and stature, and thus find the presence of large herbivores like buffalo, zebras and hippos to work to their advantage, another symbiotic relationship within nature as the large herbivores and act as natural lawnmowers, keeping the grass at nibbling height for the long-necked Oribis to feed off of.
These ginger painted antelope are very territorial, like its relatives, and also form lifelong mating pairs, but not as you might think. Unlike the Steenbok or Grysbok, the Oribi may form pairs in which males have more than one female breeding partner rather than an only simple monogamous pairs of one male and one female. Usually the pairs are between 1 and 2 females for every male. The pairs live on the same territory, with sizes varying but estimated at an average of roughly 1 square kilometer. When the pair mark their territory, the male starts by smelling the female, who thereafter deposits her feces first. The male then uses his scent glands to leave his scent there before vigorously stamping on the female’s excrement and leaving his own urine and dung there on top of her deposits.
Oribis have 6 different glands that produce smells used to mark their territories, but are also frequently used to communicate different things, although which scents convey which message is unclear. They also vocalize but only as a 3rd choice when ranking modes of communication, after visual displays and scents. They also rarely make physical contact aside from mating, although family members touch noses as a form of greeting in a way. Males spend a surprising amount of time on border patrol and marking their territory, roughly 16 times an hour by the secretion originating from one of their glands. Furthermore they have been found to spend approximately 27% of their day grazing, on average
Their courtship involves many of the same features as in other dwarf antelope where they engage in genital licking and also the very odd lifting of a front leg by males between the two hind legs of females. When a female does not want to mate, she usually runs away and lies down somewhere. During copulation, the female assumes the same position as she would when urinating. After the female Oribi has conceived, she will carry their calf for up to 7 months before giving birth. This process starts around 10 months for females and 14 months for males, when they reach sexual maturity.
When under threat, the first reaction of these small creatures is to hide within denser bush or grass areas within their habitat, with their ears down and their bodies as still as possible. If they are spotted, they sprint for dear life, with females usually running in front at a high of 50km/h through the open plain. After 200m or so they might look back to see if they are still being chased, and might run in a zig-zag motion to loose predators who aren’t as sharp when turning.
South Africa is a bewitchingly diverse destination, from Kruger to Cape Town.
Travel to Botswana for awe-inspiring game viewing opportunities.
Namibia is a vast desert country home to unique destinations like Etosha.
Zambia is an underrated and under-explored safari destination.
Zimbabwe is best known for the occurrence of the Victoria Falls on its border.
Travel to Mozambique for a remarkably unforgettable beach getaway.