Beisa Oryx (Oryx gazella beisa)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Bovidae
Size:    Length: 61 to 68  inches (105 to 120 cm)  Height: 46 to 50 inches (115 to 125 cm) to shoulder
Weight: 255 to 460 pounds (116 to 209 kg)
Diet: Grass, herbs, roots, melons, wild cucumbers, leaves, buds and bulbs
Distribution: Eastern Africa 
Young:  1 calf per year
Animal Predators:  Lions, leopards and spotted hyenas
IUCN Status: Lower Risk, Conservation Dependent
Terms: Young: Calf  Group:  Herd
Lifespan: 18 to 28 years



            The oryx is also known as the gemsbok or gemsbuck. 

            Only when their body temperature reaches 116o F (46.5o C) do oryxes begin to sweat.


Beisa oryxes have light grey fur with white and black markings on their face, legs and belly. Males and females look very similar and both have horns, although males are slightly larger and heavier and their horns may be slightly longer. There is a short, black mane that runs down the head to the shoulders, which have a slight hump. The long tail has a tuft of black fur at the end. 



Orxyes live in arid and semi-arid grasslands and savannah woodlands. Their distribution ranges from Ethiopia through Somalia into northeastern Uganda and Kenya. 


Feeding Habits

Oryxes eat grass, herbs, roots, melons, wild cucumbers, leaves, buds and bulbs. Because there is a large amount of water in their food, they can go without drinking for several days. They eat soil and salt at watering holes. They often graze at night when plants have a higher water content. 



Females can begin to reproduce at two years of age, while males are sexually mature at five years. Births occur throughout the year and the gestation period ranges between eight and nine months. Females leave the herd when they are ready to give birth, and rejoin the herd with the calf by the time it is six weeks old. Calves are fawn or reddish-brown until they reach the age of four to six months, when they begin to acquire adult colours and markings. Although oryxes are not born with horns, the horns begin to appear when they are between three and six weeks. Calves nurse for six to nine months.  



Oyxes live in mixed herds with one dominant male. The herds can be large, containing hundreds of individuals. They graze both at night and during the day. When alarmed, they snort, but otherwise are quiet animals. 



According to the IUCN, habitat loss and hunting are among the threats faced by oryxes.



National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1998$narrative.html