A group of Gemsbok or South African Oryx (Oryx gazella) with one animal in profile with head turned to the camera.

The Gemsbok or South African Oryx (Oryx gazella) is the largest species in the genus Oryx. They live in herds of about 10–40 animals, with a dominant male, a few non-dominant males, and females. Both sexes have horns and that is both their crowning glory and their downfall. They have been revered and hunted from earliest times because of those horns.

They are mainly desert or scrub dwelling and do not depend on drinking water to supply their needs. And they are big animals with muscular necks and shoulders. Males can weigh between up to 240 kg (530 lbs), while females can weigh anything from 100–210 kg (220–460 lbs)

The Gemsbok or South African Oryx can run for long distances at speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph), and that is how they escape predators. You might think otherwise from those horns, but they are only used between males for command of the herd and the females.

Gemsbok Colour Patterns

Gemsbok are light brownish-grey to tan in colour, with lighter patches toward the bottom rear of the rump. Their tails are long and black, and bushy near the tip. A blackish stripe extends from the chin down the lower edge of the neck, and right down through the juncture of the shoulder and the leg. It extends along the lower flank of each side to merge with a blackish patch on the front of the rear leg., Their lower legs have white ‘socks’ with a black patch on the front of both the front legs.

In contrast with this animal, the East African oryx does not have a dark patch at the base of the tail. It also has less black on the forelegs and none on the hind legs. Finally, it also has less black on the lower flanks.