Medaqqwa and Oribi

[Such a pleasure to discover an animal you have never even heard of before. For me, the mellifluously named Oribi is just such a new discovery.]

Today’s Ethiopian antelopes are not gazelles, and only the males have horns. Some are so tiny they can easily be mistaken for a hare: a small female Harar Dikdik may only weigh 2.5 Kg, and the Ethiopian Highland Hare can weigh 3.5 Kg! Their scientific name is Madoqua saltiana hararensis, supposedly named after the Amharic name for small antelope, medaqqwa. *

Harar Dikdik, sub species of Salt's Dik-dik

Not surprisingly, given their miniature stature (a maximum of 15″ shoulder height), they are extremely skittish, and this is my best photograph!

Moving up a notch, there are two species whose weight tops out around 22 – 25 Kg: the Oribi and the Bush Duiker. This charming family of Oribi, Ourebia ourebi, allowed us to get fairly close, but they can run at 50Km an hour if startled. The males are about 26″ at the shoulder, about the size and build of a Dalmatian.


They are strictly grass eaters, and their social lives sound interesting, since they are described as sometimes polygynous, sometimes polyandrous, and sometimes polygynandrous depending on food resources and population density. Yet these three, who were not part of a larger herd,  look monogamous to me!

The similarly-sized Bush Duiker, Sylvicapra grimmia, is the ungulate that lives at the highest altitudes, and it is monogamous. Their Latin name means “wood goat”, perhaps because they eat all sorts of things, including not only grass but also insects, frogs, and even carrion.  They can get nearly all their water from their food, and may not drink at all in the rainy season.

Bush Duicker

They are not endangered, possibly because no-one could call them picky eaters.

* I can’t confirm this origin for the Latin name Madoqua. My attempts to translate “small antelope” or “dikdik” into Amharic online turn up different words, like yenishu, የንሹ

P.S. For my UK readers, the 2.5 – 6 Kg dikdik is far smaller than the muntjacs that plague us in the UK, and which can weigh up to 18Kg..

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