An elegant horse-like antelope, found in Africa.
Five subspecies including O.g. gazella in South West Africa, O.g. beisa (Beisa Oryx) in the Horn of Africa, and O.g. callotis (Fringe-eared oryx) in Kenya and Tanzania.
Up to 18 years (22 in captivity).
153-170cm long, with a 47cm tail, standing 120cm tall at the shoulder.
Gemsbok have fawn coats (belly paler), black and white markings on the head, a black line down the throat and across the flanks and a black tail. They have straight, black horns with ridges.
Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tanzania north to the Ethiopian coast.
They are grazers.
Oryx, despite being grazing antelope, have become adapted to particularly dry areas of desert vegetation. Unlike other grazing antelopes, these desert animals live in small herds of mixed sex which don't tolerate newcomers easily. A dominance hierarchy is established within the herd by strange, posturing displays, which avoid the danger of serious injury that their long, sharp horns could potentially inflict. Males and females use their horns to defend the sparse territorial resources against incomers. The herds use eyesight to keep in contact with each other.
Mating takes place just after calving, and gestation is nine months. A single calf or twins are born, and the mother leaves the herd to give birth in seclusion. The calf is brown all over, and lies still in the grass with the mother returning to feed it 2-3 times per day. Weaning occurs at 4.5 months, at which point the calf develops adult markings, and is ready to join the herd. Females remain with the mother's herd whilst males disperse.
Classified as 'Lower risk - conservation dependent'.
The first artiodactyls (also called the 'even-toed ungulates') were present in the Eocene forests. The horned ruminants (deer, giraffe, antelope & cattle) first appear in the Miocene, taking advantage of the opening plains. The grazing antelopes like the oryx evolved to take advantage of all the grass-dominated environments in Africa.