The oribi is a wonderful little antelope that we are very fortunate to see in and around the valleys and hills of Sasakwa. This month, we have seen them quite regularly, making the very most of the green flush of grass that has come up after the burns. At a glance from a distance across on the valley side you may see the flash of rufous, a creamy underbelly and merely assume an impala… but look very closely, it may well be the lovely oribi!
Amazingly, it is usually the female that is larger than the male but it is the male that carries the horns. Keep your eyes peeled for the very pronounced black spot just beneath the ear. This comprises of glands that help diffuse chemical scents into the air which other oribis are able to interpret, almost like a little air traffic control tower sending out messages for all to understand what is going on in a various area. Oribi are particularly good at this chemical messaging and are able to work most situations out long before coming into physical contact. Solving a particular disagreement in close quarters may lead to a fight and potentially injury to one another which neither individual wants.
The oribi is very much at home up on the hills of Sasakwa. The habitat is perfect for these small antelopes. There is short grass growing in relatively open areas. The bush is not too thick but there is enough vegetation for cover and concealment. When the oribi feels threatened it releases a short sharp whistling alarm cry that is very distinctive. This is often followed by an incredible display of running, in a “rocking horse” fashion which is beautiful to see.