Oryx is generally an antelope. So the oryxes have more or less similar kind of features. Some features vary in different species. Let’s have a close look at the characteristics of each of the species under the oryx genus.
Scimitar oryx (Oryx dammah)
Scimitar oryx is also called scimitar-horned oryx. It is famous for its straight horn. The average height of this species is 149-240 cm. Male scimitar oryx weighs 140-210 kg and female scimitar oryx weighs 91-140 kg. The tail of this oryx is 45-60 cm long. The thorn of both a male and a female can reach up to 1.0-1.2 m.
Scimitar oryx’s coat is white and it has a reddish-brown chest. There are black markings on its forehead and down the length of the nose. Those black markings protect them from sunburn.
Gemsbok (Oryx gazella)
Gemsbok is also known as gemsbuck or South African oryx. It is the largest antelope species in the genus Oryx. The height of a gemsbok is 190-240 cm and the length of the tail is 45-90 cm. Male gemsbok weighs 180-240 kg and the female weighs 100-210 kg.
Gemsbok is light brownish-grey to yellowish-brown in color. It has a long and black tail. There is a black stripe from the chin to the neck’s end. They have straight horns.
East African oryx (Oryx beisa)
East African oryx weighs around 79 kg. Its height is 75-80 cm. These oryxes have grey coats with white undersides. They also have black stripes along with the nose, from the eye to the mouth, and on the forehead. Their horns are thin and straight.
There are two subspecies of East African oryxes. These are:
- Common beisa oryx ( b. beisa)
- Fringe-eared oryx ( b. callotis)
Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx)
Arabian oryx weighs around 70 kg. Its height is 1 m at the shoulder. The coat of an Arabian oryx is white and its undersides and legs are brown. Like the other oryxes, they also have black stripes. Their horns are generally 50-75 cm long. They have a lifespan of around 20 years.
Range & habitat
The Scimitar Oryx, Gemsbok, and East African oryx are native to the arid regions of Africa. Arabian oryx as the name says is native to Arabian Peninsula. All of the oryxes can live in near-desert conditions.
Let’s have a look at the range and habitat of each oryx species.
- Scimitar oryx: The Scimitar oryx lived in grassy steppes, semidesert, and desert regions of central North Africa previously. Now, it is bred in special reserves of Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, and Chad.
- Gemsbok: Gemsbok can be found in the arid areas of Southern Africa, such as the Kalahari Desert.
- East African oryx: One of the East African oryxes can be found in steppes and semi-desert areas of the Horn of Africa. The other subspecies can be found in southern Kenya and parts of Tanzania.
- Arabian oryx: Arabian oryx lives in gravel desert or hard sand areas. Now, it has been reintroduced to Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE, Syria, and Jordan.
All of the oryx species can live in the fringes of the desert area. That’s why they can live without drinking water for a long period. Oryxes eat foliage, grass, herbs, shrubs, plants, legumes, juicy fruits and roots, and buds. Some of the species can survive without water for a significant amount of time for the special adaptation of their kidneys. However, they get water from the plant resources they eat.
Behavior & lifestyle
Some of the oryx species are very sociable and calm animals. They generally roam around in herds of two to forty members. The group is led by a dominant male oryx. Oryxes are diurnal. They rest in the early morning and evening.
Male oryxes fight often but the fights don’t last for long and those are non-violent. Both males and females of the Scimitar oryx species reach sexual maturity at 1.5-2 years. The female oryx gestates for about nine months and bears only one offspring.
Fun oryx facts
Here is a list of “Top 5 Fun Oryx Facts“. For knowing more read below:
- Arabian oryx is the first species to have changed back from Extinct in the Wild to Vulnerable category in the IUCN Red List in 2011.
- The horns of the oryxes are dangerous. They have been known to kill lions with their horns!
- The Scimitar oryx was bred by rich households in Ancient Rome.
- The coat of arms of Namibia depicts a gemsbok.
- The national animal of the State of Qatar is an oryx and the company Qatar Airways has an oryx as its logo.
Meet the oryx
Did you enjoy learning more about the oryx? Have you ever met this unique creature face-to-face? Tell us about your oryx experience in the comment section below. Because those who care share!
- Oryx: Wildlife summary from the African Wildlife Foundation
- IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2011). “Oryx leucoryx“. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as Vulnerable.
- IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). “Oryx dammah”. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2011. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as extinct in the wild.
- Dr. J. H. Thiel, Beknopt Grieks-Nederlands Woordenboek 4e Ed. (Wolters Groningen
- Bailey, T., O’Donovan, D., Lloyd. C., and Bailey, T. (2011). Editorial. Wildlife Middle East News 6(1). ISSN 1990-8237
- “Reviving a Breed”, iht.com, January 2007, web: iht7. Archived September 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- “Oryx beisa“. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
- “Oryx gazella“. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
- State of New Mexico, NM-PDF-Oryx.
- “Pictures: Qatar Airways unveils new livery and first-class products“. Flightglobal. March 8, 2006. Archived from the original on May 27, 2014.
- Kaminski-Morrow, David (January 13, 2014). “Qatar hybrid livery to feature on test A350“. Toulouse: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on May 26, 2014.