Ourebia ourebi - The Oribi

The oribi is a small antelope that is known for its graceful manner, and is found throughout the savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa. It has slender legs and a long, elegant neck with a short, bushy tail. Its back and the upper portion of its chest are a tan, orange-brown, reddish-brown or reddish-yellow colour. The belly, chest, throat, rump and chin are all white as is the underside of the tail.

Did you know? The male oribi grows a set of thin, straight horns that can reach around 15 to 18 centimetres, although longer ones are occasionally recorded.

There is a distinguishing feature in the oribi – a crescent shape of white fur just above its eyes. The nostrils are red, and there is a large black patch just below each ear. This bald patch is a glandular one, as are the vertical creases on either side of the face (the latter of which give off an odour that allows the animal to mark its territory).

The male oribi grows a set of thin, straight horns that can reach around 15 to 18 centimetres, although longer ones are occasionally recorded. The oribi is a quick runner, and reaches speeds of up to 40 or 50 kilometres per hour, which is their primary means of escape when a predator gets really close.


The oribi is relatively small in comparison to other southern African antelope. It reaches a length of 92 to 110 centimetres and a shoulder height of between 50 and 66 centimetres.


The average oribi weighs between 14 and 22 kilograms.


The oribi prefers grassy savannahs with a flat (or relatively flat) terrain. They need short grasses and herbaceous plants for food, and long grasses for shelter, camouflage and cover.


Oribi are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They inhabit parts of Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Specifically, they are in the eastern and central parts of South Africa.

Here, reserves like Kruger National Park (less than an hour from Nelspruit), Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve (near Port Shepstone and about two hours from the King Shaka International Airport in Durban), Sibuya Private Game Reserve (around 1.5 to two hours from Port Elizabeth and East London in opposite directions), and the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Gauteng are home to the oribi.

Diet - Herbivores

The oribi is rather selective about the grasses that it eats. It prefers short grasses. However, where available, it will also dine on other leaves and shoots when droughts or heat make the grass scarce. After a fire, the young, juicy shoots of new plants are a real treat for the oribi.

They get a large portion of their water from the grasses and leaves that they eat and, therefore, do not necessarily need above-ground water for their survival.


Usually, oribi can be found in pairs or in a group of three. If there is a lone animal, it is likely to be a male, as females tend to stick together. In isolated areas, the groups may be slightly larger. The male and female of a mating pair are both territorial and occupy a territory of anywhere between 20 and 60 hectares.

When faced with a danger - often a predator - the oribi will stand motionless in the long grass, hoping to remain undetected. Once the predator has approached and is within a few metres of the antelope, the potential prey will leap away, flashing the white underside of its tail to warn fellow buck, while emitting a high-pitched whistle. They may also jump vertically with all of their legs straight and their back arched when they are surprised by a predator. This manoeuvre is called stotting.


This antelope mates between April and June and, after a 7-month gestation period, one lamb is born. The female’s firstborn usually arrives when the mother is two years of age (however, females reach sexual maturity at only 10 months of age, and can conceive from that age onwards), after which she will produce around one lamb every year until she is between 8 and 13 years old. Most babies are born in the rainy season, when food is readily available and there is enough suitable cover for mother and baby alike. The lamb will be concealed in the tall grasses for the first 8 to 10 weeks of its life. The mother will keep returning to it to nurse it. Finally, it will be weaned at about 4 or 5 months old. Males reach sexual maturity at 14 months.

Each given territory has only one or two females in it.


The oribi has a gestation period of around 7 months.

Life Expectancy

This antelope has lived for up to 14 years in captivity.


In the wild, the oribi is vulnerable to predators like caracals, hyenas, lions, leopards, jackals, African wild dogs, crocodiles and snakes (specifically, pythons).

However, in South Africa, they are also hunted as a food source or for sport, which is illegal. Using traps and hunting dogs, these animals stand little chance of survival. Their natural habitat is being threatened by pollution, urbanisation, and commercial forestry.

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