The Gemsbok {Oryx Gazella}

South Africa Wildlife

The Gemsbok {Oryx Gazella}

emsbok
The Gemsbok

The Gemsbok is a large antelope of striking appearance with long, spearlike horns. It has a thick, horselike neck with a short mane and a compact, muscular body. A defined pattern of black markings that contrast with the white face and fawn-colored body are prominently displayed in dominance rituals to emphasize the length of horns and strength of the shoulder.

The head is marked with black triangular patches and broad black stripes that extend from the base of the horns over the eyes to the cheeks. A ring of black encircles the throat and runs down the neck to the chest. The ears end in a black tip (a black tassel hangs from the ear tip of the fringe-eared oryx). A narrow black stripe runs along the spine, and another one separates the lower flank from the white underparts of the body. The white forelegs have a black ring above the knee and a black patch below. The black tail tassel reaches to the hocks.

The oryx's ringed horns are up to 30 inches long, making them formidable weapons. The female's horns are often longer and thinner than the male's.

Quick Facts


Habitat: Originally, various oryx species were found in all of Africa's arid regions. One species that occurred on the Arabian Peninsula was exterminated recently but has now been reintroduced into the wild from captive stock. Well adapted to the conditions of their hot, arid habitats, oryx can live as long as 20 years

The Gemsbok
The Gemsbok
Diet: Oryx typically feed in early morning and late afternoon and sometimes on moonlit nights. Their diets consists mainly of coarse grasses and browse from thorny shrubs. In desert areas they consume thick leaved plants, wild melons, as well as roots and tubers they dig out of the ground. Gemsbock may drink if water is available but can survive days or even weeks without it.

Plants growing in arid areas inhabited by oryx have also adapted to the hot, dry conditions and either store water or have mechanisms to prevent excess loss. Plants collect dew, gradually releasing it during the hotter parts of the day. Some plants increase their water content by 25 to 40 percent, so when oryx feed late at night or early in the morning, it provides them with both food and water.

Predators: Lion, wild dog and hyena.

Reproduction: The female comes into heat soon after giving birth. The more frequent estrus cycles enable females to produce calves at 9-month intervals.

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Gemsbok Facts and Photographs
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