East African Oryx

East African Oryx
East African Oryx
Beisa Oryx (Oryx beisa beisa)
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Hippotraginae
Genus: Oryx
Species: O. beisa
Binomial name
Oryx beisa
Rüppell, 1835

The East African Oryx (Oryx beisa), also known as the Beisa[2] occurs in two subspecies, Common Beisa Oryx (Oryx beisa beisa) found in steppe and semi-desert throughout the Horn of Africa and north of the Tana River, and Fringe-eared Oryx (Oryx beisa callotis) south of the Tana River in southern Kenya and parts of Tanzania. In the past, some taxonomists considered it a subspecies of the Gemsbok (Oryx gazella), but they are genetically distinct; the diploid chromosome count is 56 for the Beisa and 58 for the Gemsbok.[citation needed]

Common Beisa Oryx (Oryx beisa beisa)
Fringe-eared Oryx (Oryx beisa callotis)

East African Oryx stand just over a metre at the shoulder and weigh around 175 kilograms. They have a grey coat with a white underside, separated from the grey by a stripe of black, there are also black stripes where the head attaches to the neck, along the nose and from the eye to the mouth and on the forehead. There is a small chestnut coloured mane. The ringed horns are thin and straight. They are found on both sexes and typically a measure of 75–80 cm is considered big. Comparably, the Gemsbok has an entirely black tail, a black patch at the base of the tail, and more black on the legs (including a patch on the hindlegs) and lower flanks. The smaller Arabian Oryx is overall whiter with largely dark legs.

East African Oryx live in semi-desert and steppes where they eat grass, leaves, fruit and buds. East African Oryx are able to store water by raising their body temperature (so as to avoid perspiration). They gather in herds of five to forty animals often with females moving at the front and large male guarding from the rear. Some older males are solitary. Radio tracking studies show that solitary males are often accompanied for brief periods by breeding condition females, so it is probable they are executing a strategy to maximise their chances of reproduction.


  1. ^ IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). Oryx beisa. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 13 November 2008.Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of Near Threatened.
  2. ^ Grubb, Peter (16 November 2005). Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14200953. 

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