For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gemsbok (Oryx gazella)

The gemsbok or gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) is a large antelope in the Oryx genus. It is native to the arid regions of Southern Africa, such as the Kalahari Desert. Some authorities formerly included the East African oryx as a subspecies. The current gemsbok population in South Africa is estimated at 373,000 specimens.


Gemsbok are the largest species in the Oryx gneus. They stand about 1.2 m (3.9 ft) at the shoulder. The body length can vary from 190 to 240 cm (75 to 94 in) and the tail measures 45 to 90 cm (18 to 35 in). Male gemsbok can weigh between 220 and 300 kg (490 and 660 lb), while females weigh 100–210 kg (220–460 lb).

Gemsbok are widely hunted for their spectacular horns that average 85 cm (33 in) in length. From a distance, the only outward difference between males and females (at a distance) is their horns, and many hunters mistake females for males each year. In males, these horns are perfectly straight, extending from the base of the skull to a slight outward and rearward angle. Females have longer, thinner horns with a slight outward and rearward curve in addition to their angle.

 Female gemsbok use their horns to defend themselves and their offspring from predators, while males primarily use their horns to defend their territories from other males.


Gemsbok are one of the few antelope species where female trophies are sometimes more desirable than male ones. A gemsbok horn can be fashioned into a natural trumpet and, according to some authorities, can be used as a shofar.

Gemsbok live in herds of about 10-40 animals, which consist of a dominant male, a few non-dominant males, and females. They are mainly desert-dwelling and do not depend on drinking water to supply their physiological needs. They can reach running speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph).

3 comments:

OneStonedCrow said...

hehe ... here in Namibia some people believe that an Oryx is able to deflect bullets aimed at them with their horns ...

Gaelyn said...

Magnificent. So glad we've seen them and hope we see more in the Kalahari.

Joe said...

These are awesome animals.