Most species are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. Some such as the roan antelope and the desert oryx species are also active at night. The southern reedbuck is largely nocturnal when food and water are plentiful, but becomes more active during the day in the dry season. Desert oryx species and the addax excavate scrapes with their front legs in the shade of bushes or rocks, in which they rest during the heat of the day.

Socialization is poorly developed in the reedbucks and the gray rhebok, which live singly or in pairs, or in small groups of females and young that either live within the territories of single males or range over a few male territories. The other species in the subfamily are more social and occur in larger groups. In most species, adult males hold territories (often year-round), females and young form herds, often with a distinct hierarchy and led by a dominant female, and non-territorial adult males form bachelor herds. During the rutting season, territorial males mate with females from herds entering their territories.

Lechwe occur in large aggregations, while kob and topi also sometimes occur at a high density. In such situations, these species usually maintain territorial breeding grounds (leks) during the rut. When population density is not high, kob and topi do not lek, but individual males hold small territories.

Addax and oryx have a tight social structure, with a smallish herd centered on one or more adult bulls and with a hierarchy of adults of both sexes.

Coke's hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus cokii) mother and calf. (Photo by David Madison. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Several different methods are used to mark territories. Re-duncines lack functional pedal and pre-orbital glands and do not physically mark the habitat; reedbuck advertise the territory by whistling. Rhebok mark the territory with urine and preputial gland secretions. The Alcelaphini use pedal glands and dung middens, while facial or pre-orbital gland secretions are mainly used to mark the body. Sable use visual marks (vegetation damage), feces, pedal scent, and display.

Elaborate dominance displays and appeasement behavior often replace or reduce aggression, and it is uncommon for serious injury to result from fighting. However, gray rhebok sometimes have serious fights in which individuals are killed. Sable, roan, and the Alcelaphini are unusual in that males fight in a kneeling position. The demands of a hierarchical society have given rise to unique ritualized oryx tournaments, in which herd members run around in circles with sudden spurts of galloping and ritualized pacing interspersed with brief horn clashes.

Courtship displays include approaching in an erect or a low stretch posture, prancing with nose-lifting, male walking behind female (mating march), foreleg-lifting, and urine testing (in gray rhebok, impala, the Hippotragini, and the wildebeests).

Many species wander in response to the availability of food. Lechwe follow the rising and falling waters of their floodplain habitats, feeding on exposed grasses. Scimitar-horned oryx migrate seasonally in search of grazing areas. Blue wildebeest may be sedentary, nomadic, or migratory, depending on the local distribution of rain and green grass; the regular and spectacular migrations of the herds in the Serengeti of Tanzania are famous.

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