The distribution of Ourebia ourebi is patchy and discontinuous throughout the grasslands of central and southern Africa. It is found in the moist areas of Northern and Southern savanna, across Guinea Savanna to Ethiopia and south through western East Africa to Tanzania (Estes, 1991).
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Haggard’s Oribi is entirely isolated from other forms in coastal Kenya to southern Somalia (Hillman et al. 1998; East 1999).
The Kenya Oribi formerly occurred on the lower slopes of Mount Kenya but is now extinct (Hillman et al. 1998; East 1999).
The oribi has silky, yellow to reddish-brown coat with white fur on underparts of body and rump. Also, it has a distinctive white line of fur over its eye and a bare, dark patch beneath each ear. Ourebia ourebi also has a tuft of long hair on each "knee" and a short black tail (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2004). It has very distinct preorbital glands that fill most of the space between the eye and mouth. These glands appear as vertical folds on the side of the face. The oribi stands about 50-66cm to the shoulder and has a body length ranging from 92-110cm. It has very long legs and neck. Males have small, spike like horns that range from 8-19cm in length (Smith, 1985).
Range mass: 12 to 22 kg.
Range length: 92 to 110 cm.
Sexual Dimorphism: ornamentation
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
- Encyclopedia Britannica, 2004. "Oribi" (On-line). Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Accessed 11/01/04 at http://search.eb.com/eb/article?tocId=9057366.
- Smith, Stephen J., 1985. The Atlas of Africa's Principal Mammals. Republic of South Africa: Natural History Books.
Highveld Grasslands Habitat
This species can be found in the Highveld grasslands ecoregion in southern Africa. This ecoregion now provides the last remaining stronghold of a number of grassland species that have suffered major reductions in abundance in the grassland biome, and which are consequently threatened with extinction (e.g. the Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisea). There is a relatively biodiverse vertebrate fauna, with 608 taxa recorded.
The dominant vegetation comprises grasses, with geophytes and herbs also being well represented. Dominant and diagnostic grass species are Thatching Grass (Hyparrhenia hirta) and Catstail Dropseed Grass (Sporobolus pyramidalis). Non-grassy forbs include False Paperbark Thorn (Acacia sieberiana), Rhus vulgaris, Selago densiflora, Spermacoce natalensis, Aandblom (Kohautia cynanchica), and Phyllanthus glaucophyllus. Relatively high precipitation levels sustain the grasslands during the austral summer, with the mean annual range between 400 to 900 millimetres.
The Highveld grassland ecoregion can be divided into three habitat types: (1) Kalahari/Karoo-highveld transition zone; (2) sweet grasslands; and (3) sour grasslands. In the western half of the ecoregion, a gradual transition occurs from the Karoo/Kalahari-highveld transition zone to the grassland habitats of the Highveld. Shrubs and trees grow in the transition zone, although grasses still dominate this zone.
Bird species richness is relatively high within this ecoregion. However, Botha’s Lark (Spizocorys fringillaris) is the only bird species strictly endemic to the ecoregion, where it inhabits heavily grazed grassland. An additional six avian species are near-endemics including White-winged Flufftail (Sarothrura ayresii), Blue Korhaan (Eupodotis caerulescens), White-bellied Bustard (Eupodotis senegalensis), Rudd’s lark (Heteromirafra ruddi), the Near Threatened Melodious lark (Mirafra cheniana), Buff-streaked chat (Saxicola bifasciatus), and the Vulnerable Yellow-breasted pipit (Anthus chloris).
This ecoregion contains a higher number of mammals, although only the Orange Mouse (Mus orangiae) is restricted to the ecoregion, and the Rough-haired Golden Mole (Chrysospalax villosa) is near-endemic. The ecoregion also supports populations of several large mammal species, some of which are rare in southern Africa (Stuart and Stuart 1995). Among these are the Vulnerable Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea), African Civet Cat (Civettictis civetta), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger), Ground Pangolin (Manis temminckii), Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis), African Striped Weasel (Poecilogale albinucha), Aardwolf (Proteles cristatus), Oribi (Ourebia ourebi), and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae). Herds of large mammals, including Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) and White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), previously occurred in the Highveld grasslands, but were extirpated by the local human population. Other notable mammalian taxa occurring in the ecoregion include the Vulnerable Juliana's golden mole (Neamblysomus julianae).
Relatively few reptile species occur within the Highveld grasslands, mainly due to its cool climate. However, the ecoregion supports some of Africa’s most characteristic reptile species, including Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), African Rock-python (Python sebae), Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus) and Veld Monitor (Varanus albigularis albigularis). There are also two strictly endemic reptiles: Giant Girdled Lizard (Cordylus giganteus) and Agama aculeata distanti (Branch 1998). Several additional reptile species are near-endemics, including Drakensberg Rock gecko (Afroedura niravia), the Vulnerable Giant Girdled Lizard (Cordylus giganteus), and Breyer's Whip Lizard (Tetradactylus breyeri) (Branch 1998).
Twenty-nine amphibians occur within the ecoregion but none are endemic (Passmore and Carruthers 1995). Example anuran species in the Highveld grasslands are the Kimberley Toad (Amietophrynus poweri), African Dwarf Toad (Poyntonophrynus vertebralis), who breeds in temporary shallow pans, freshwater pools or depressions containing rainwater; the Red Toad (Schismaderma carens); Cape River Frog (Amietia fuscigula). endemic of the high slopes of the Drakensberg Mountains and Lesotho Highlands; South African Snake-necked Frog (Phrynomantis bifasciatus), typically found under loose sand below large rocks or boulders.
- C. Michael Hogan & World Wildlife Fund. 2015. Highveld grasslands. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
- J.P.H. Acocks. 1988. Veld types of South Africa. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa 57: 1-146. (An update of the first edition published in 1953),
Ourebia ourebi live in open grasslands. They prefer short grasses with patchy areas of tall grasses to provide hiding places. They like grasslands that are not extremely tall or dense and with some bushes. They avoid steep slopes.
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest
Habitat and Ecology
The oribi is both a grazer and browser. It grazes during the wet season when fresh grass is readily available, and it browses when drought occurs and fresh grass is less common. This herbivorous mammal consumes at least eleven different herbs and eats the foliage from seven different trees. It has also been known to visit mineral licks every one to three days (Kingdon, 1982).
Natural enemies of the oribi include leopards, caracals and pythons. Young oribi also are threatened by jackals, the Libyan wildcat, ratels, baboons, eagles and monitors.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: wild: 8 to 12 years.
Status: captivity: 14.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Ourebia ourebi breeds throughout the year, with its peak season in October and November (Openshaw, 1993). The oribi has a monogomous to polygynous mating system with the males maintaining the territory and sharing it with one to two or more females. Females are able to conceive as early as ten months and males are sexually active by fourteen months (Estes, 1991). Their gestation period lasts from six to seven months and one young is borne at a time.
Breeding interval: Breed once per year.
Breeding season: Can breed year-round, peak in October-November.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 6 to 7 months.
Range weaning age: 4 to 5 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 10 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 14 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 2235 g.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 426 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 304 days.
Parental Investment: altricial
- Estes, R. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.
- Openshaw, P. 1993. Mass capture of antelope, buffalo, giraffe, and zebra. A McKenzie, ed. The Capture and Care Manual: Capture, Care, Accommodation, and Transportation of Wild African Animals. Wildlife Decision Support Services. Accessed November 01, 2004 at http://wildnetafrica.co.za/estate/capturecare/.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Ourebia ourebi
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ourebia ourebi
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
The combination of continued agricultural and urban development, bush encroachment and increased vulnerability to poachers threatens the persistance Ourebia ourebi.
Protected areas (parks, wildlife refuges) exist to provide a safe environment for this species. The IUCN has listed the species as "Lower Risk, but Conservation Dependent." This means that if current conservation efforts were ended, the species would be in greater danger of extinction.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
East (1999) produced a total population estimate of 750,000. Population trend is stable in many protected areas but decreasing in some others which receive minimal or no protection. Outside protected areas, population trend is gradually downwards in many parts of the Oribi’s range as human populations increase and settlement expands, although its populations are stable in some thinly settled, unprotected regions where hunting pressures are relatively low.
The total numbers of Haggard’s Oribi are probably in the thousands.
Haggard’s Oribi occurs in Boni-Dodori National Reserve in Kenya and Bush Bush N.P. in Somalia, but there is no information available on its status.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Ourebia ourebi occasionally cause damage to field crops such as wheat and oats because these foods resemble their natural diet (Kingdon, 1982).
Ourebia ourebi is hunted for food and by recreational hunters.
Positive Impacts: food
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Oribi grow to around 92–110 cm (36 to 43 in) in length, with a shoulder height of 50–66 cm (20 to 26 in) and weigh an average of 12–22 kg (26 to 49 lb). They can run at speeds of up to 40–50 km/h (25–31 mph). In captivity, they have lifespans of up to 14 years.
The back and upper chest is yellow to orange-brown. The chin, throat, chest, belly and rump are white. The tail is short and bushy, the upper side black or dark brown, and the under surface white. The white, crescent-shaped band of fur above the eye helps to distinguish this species from other similar-looking antelope. Below each ear is a large, round, black, glandular patch, the nostrils are prominently red, and on the sides of the face are vertical creases that house the preorbital glands. These glands produce an odorous secretion used to mark the oribi's territory. Only males grow horns, which are slender and upright, ridged to about halfway up, the ends being smooth and pointed, with some of length 19 cm (7.5 in) being recorded.
Distribution and habitat
Oribi are found in most countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from Senegal to west and central Ethiopia and southern Somalia, southward into eastern Kenya, across into north Botswana, Uganda, and Angola, with patchy and discontinuous distribution through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and into central and eastern South Africa.
They typically inhabit open grasslands or thinly bushed country, preferring habitats with short grasses on which to graze, interspersed with tall grasses which provide cover from predators and the elements. Oribi are highly water-dependent and tend to avoid steep slopes.
During the breeding season, August to December, the male will mate with all the females which share his territory. Usually, only one or two females are present in each territory. Following a gestation period of six to seven months, a single offspring is born. For the first eight to 10 weeks the female oribi hides her young in thick grass, where it will lie motionless if approached. The mother returns periodically to suckle her offspring. Young are weaned at about four to five months. Females reach sexual maturity at 10 months, males at 14 months.
Primarily grazers, oribi prefer to eat short grasses, but will browse on leaves, foliage and young shoots during the dry season. They are often seen in burnt areas after veld fires, returning to the area to eat the fresh grass shoots. The oribi also use mineral licks to supplement their diets.
Oribi fall prey to numerous animals, including lions, leopards, caracals, hyenas, African wild dogs, jackals, crocodiles and pythons. Young are also taken by eagles, genets and other small carnivores.
Oribi are found on their own, in pairs, or in small groups of one male with two or more females. Resting during the heat of the day, oribi are most active in the morning, late afternoon and evening. When alarmed, they produce a shrill whistle. Often, they do not attempt to flee until an intruder is within a few meters, remaining motionless in the grass, relying on camouflage. If threatened, they gallop away, bounding stiff-legged into the air every few strides; a behaviour known as stotting.
Threats and conservation
Oribi populations in many areas are threatened by human activities, such as:
- Habitat destruction - Grasslands are lost to expanding settlement, commercial forestry, intensive commercial farming, grassland degradation due to overstocking, poor use of fire, erosion and mining.
- Illegal hunting - Trapping with snares and hunting with dogs are serious threats, and has led to the demise of many oribi populations in South Africa.
- Inappropriate management - In many areas where oribi are present, farm management practices (impenetrable fences, poor burning practices, poor veld management, domestic dogs) do not allow oribi to coexist. Sport hunting of oribi at unsustainable levels also threaten their survival.
Oribi occur in several protected areas and are the subject of a WWF Species Project. This project aims to track captive-bred oribi after their release into appropriate habitat to research their home ranges and habitat preferences. The long-term aim of the project is to establish viable wild populations from captive-bred stock.
These subspecies have been described:
- Ourebia ourebi aequatoria (Uganda)
- O. o. cottoni (Tanzania)
- O. o. dorcas (Chad)
- O. o. gallarum (Central Ethiopia)
- O. o. goslingi (North Democratic Republic of Congo)
- O. o. haggardi (Northern Kenya)
- O. o. hastata (Zaire, Malawi, Zimbabwe)
- O. o. kenyae (Kenya)
- O. o. montana (Sudan to west Ethiopia)
- O. o. ourebi (South Africa)
- O. o. quadriscopa (Senegal to Nigeria)
- O. o. rutila (Angola)
- O. o. ugandae (Uganda)
- ARKive - images and movies of the oribi (Ourebia ourebi)
- EcoTravel guide to the oribi
- Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
- Webkenya - Wildlife in Kenya