Scimitar-Horned Oryx

Scimitar-Horned Oryx Oryx dammah

Type of Animal:

Sub-desert, steppe, wooded inter-dunal depressions, rolling dunes, desert, arid plains, rocky hillsides, thick brush, chaparral

Formerly all over North Africa and Sahel. Now only in small pockets of that range.

White with a reddish-brown area on the neck. Males and females have long, sharp horns. A few brownish tinges on the body. Broad hooves to prevent sinking into sand. Calves very light. Horns look like scimitar, hence name.

Grasses, herbs, buds, juicy roots, legumes, leaves, fruit (especially wild melons), euphorbias, perennials, acacia pods, shoots

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Breeding on ranches, zoos, and wildlife parks. Reintroductions into Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, & Chad. Proposed reintroductions into other areas of former range.

Nowadays, herds consist of a dominant male w/ his harem of 3-20 females and calves. Sometimes, 3-6 subordinate males are found in the breeding herds. Other males form bachelor herds of 3-6 animals. Herds were much larger in the past. Also, aggregations of many herds came together forming mega-herds of up to 500 in migrations.

Additional Info:


Male-470 lbs
Female-300 lbs
Young-22-30 lbs

8-8.5 months

Male-4 ft
Female-3.9 ft

Body Length:
4.9-7.5 ft

Life Span:
Up to 20 years

Tail Length:
2 ft

Formerly, main predators were lions, leopards, hyenas, & wild dogs.

2nd most common antelope in captivity, with up to 16,750 being held in ranches, zoos, & wildlife parks worldwide.

Almost extinct in the wild due to climate change, competition w/ livestock, habitat loss, conversion of habitat into farmland, & hunting for horns/sport.

White coat helps reflect heat of sun.

Many institutions collaborating to form World Herd for reintroduction in wild.

Very common on exotic game ranches in Texas. Often kept in hunting ranches.

Even though horns are sharp, fights are not fierce.

They can tolerate internal body temp of 116 F meaning they don’t need to sweat as much, helping them conserve water in dry environment.

Calves can run as fast as adults at 3 weeks old.

Calves stay in hiding stage for 1st 2 weeks of life.

Also known as Sahara Oryx.

Primarily active at dawn & dusk (crepuscular).

Sexually mature at 1.5 years.

Fun Fact(s):
They can be rather aggressive, especially females w/ calves.

They rarely need to drink. Get water from plants they eat. They can go years w/o drinking.

Possible basis for unicorn myth.

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