The Oribi (Ourebia ourebi) is a gazelle-like antelope, one of the largest’ small’ antelopes in Africa (not much smaller than a Thomson’s gazelle) with silky, yellow to reddish-brown coat, white fur 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.
The small antelope also has a tuft of long hair on each “knee” and a short black tail. It has 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 a neck. Males have small, spike-like horns ranging from 8 to 19cm.
The Oribi favours tall grassland, which occurs in all savanna national parks except for Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is widespread in the Borassus grassland in the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park, most often seen in pairs or groups of up to five animals, consisting of one male and his ‘harem’, but also sometimes in larger groups.
Oribis are solitary mammals but sometimes live in pairs. Occasionally they travel in small groups with up to six members. They are primarily active during the day.
This small antelope is one of the few mammals that benefit from wildfires. Once a fire dies, the Oribi returns to the area and eats the fresh, sprouting green grass.
Adult males mark their territory with secretions from their preorbital glands. They patrol their area, marking the grass with combinations of black secretions from the preorbital glands and urination and defecation.
When disturbed, the Oribi emits a high-pitched sneezing sound, then bounds off mildly reminiscent of a pronking springbok.
When faced with danger – often from 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 their legs straight and their back arched when surprised by a predator. This manoeuvre is called stotting.
Oribis are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa but are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They inhabit parts of Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d’Ivoire; Eritrea; Eswatini; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Lesotho; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, the United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe.
In Uganda, the Oribi has been spotted in all savanna national parks except Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is widespread in the Borassus grassland in the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park.