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Flexibility (varying from monogamy in South Africa to polygyny in East Africa) has been documented in the mating system of the oribi (Ourebia ourebi) by several authors. To investigate this, a population was studied in Northern KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). The adult sex ratio was one male to 1.38 females and the mean group size was 2.1 (n = 13). Although monogamous and polygynous groups occurred in the study population, the polygynous groups were unstable and depended on seasonal food abundance. Comparison of oribi populations across Africa suggests that variation in the mating system is determined mainly by predation risk and altitude (most likely through its effect on graze quality). In areas of high predation risk, oribi can survive only when resource quality permits females to forage in groups, thereby allowing males to be polygynous. © 2007 The Authors.

Original publication




Journal article


African Journal of Ecology

Publication Date





197 - 206