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Gemsbok / Oryx

Oryx gazella

Description - Other Names - Distribution - Taxonomy

Gemsbok / Oryx (Oryx gazella) Silhouette

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Gemsbok - Male Bull © A Barnett-Harris

Gemsbok bulls fighting © SA TourismThe gemsbok or oryx are easily identifiable by their long straight horns (reaching up to 120 cm) and black and white masked faces.

They graze in dry semi-desert and open grassy plains, often in groups of up to 40. Male bulls usually lead solitary lives and are territorial.

Their diet consists of grass and moist roots, which are dug up with their feet, as well as wild melons and other fruits. The gemsbok has the ability to go long periods without water due to their diet of succulent roots and melons. They also control their body temperature through the blood vessels which are clustered around their nostrils which cools the blood when they breathe. In the hottest parts of the day, the gemsbok gather around the shade of trees.

Gemsbok are swift-footed and are dangerous animals to prey on as they are known to spear lions with their long horns.

After a gestation period of 9 months, a single calf is born.

Other Names


Distribution map of the Gemsbok
Distribution map
of the


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