Oribi

Ourebia ourebi TAXONOMY

Antilope ourebi (Zimmermann, 1783), Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Thirteen proposed subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Ourebie; German: Bleichbockchen; Spanish: Oribi. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Slender, small antelope; males have distinctively large glands beneath the eyes. Length 37-44 in (93-111 cm); height 24-27 in (60-69 cm); weight 33-46 lb (15-21 kg). Pelage sandy to rufous with white undersides, throat, chin, mouth, eyebrows, and ear linings. Eyes large and black. Tail often darker than body with white underside. Horns on males straight, sharp, and annulated, grow to 7.5 in (19 cm) and angle slightly to the anterior.

DISTRIBUTION

Most widespread member of the Neotraginae, it is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa on fire-climax grasslands and mixed savannas.

HABITAT

Highly variable, but this species generally occurs in open habitats ranging from guinea savanna, moist savannas, woodland mosaics, flood plains, to montane and coastal grasslands. Densities in optimal habitat recorded at up to 91 per mi2 (35 per km2), but more typically 1-10 per mi2 (0.5-4 per km2) in suitable habitats.

BEHAVIOR

Behaviorally flexible, this antelope is adapted to a range of environmental conditions and behavior is linked to local conditions. Males defend females and territories cooperatively in some areas and simply follow a single female throughout her home range in other areas. Scent marking with urine, feces, and glandular secretions is used to demarcate territory borders where territories are defended. Primary vocalization is a shrill whistle used to alert group members to approaching danger. Other vocalizations include bleats, mews, and, upon capture, human-like screams.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The only predominately grazing member of the Neotraginae. Selective grazer of fresh green grasses; forbs, legumes, and tree foliage are eaten when fresh grass is unavailable. Fungi, flowers, and fruit are often eaten, as is soil, for their nutrient content. Feed actively at day and night, but generally avoid heat of midday and are most active during cool hours of early morning and late afternoon. Survive in some areas with little access to open water.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Group size is highly variable and ranges from solitary animals to groups of up to 12 adults. Territories range in size from 0.25-148 ac (0.1-60 ha). Pair bonds may last years. One young is born after a gestation period of 6.5-7 months. Young hide in tall vegetation for up to three months before joining group. Birth peaks coincide with the arrival of rainy seasons.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent. Two putative subspecies, O. o. haggardi, of coastal Kenya and Somalia, and O. o. keniae, of the Mount Kenya region are classified as Vulnerable and Extinct, respectively. Total population of this species is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. It is shot, snared, and trapped throughout its distribution and hunting is the primary reason for dramatic population declines in human-dominated areas. Like other neotragines, oribi have poor stamina and are easily run down by domestic dogs.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

This animal is prized for its meat in many regions and provides subsistence and income for hunters in much of sub-Saharan Africa. The skin is used for drums and other traditional craft-work. ♦

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