LATIN NAMEOryx dammah
BIOMETemperate Grasslands and deserts
CONSERVATION STATUSExtinct In The Wild
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About the Scimitar-horned Oryx
Named for its magnificent scimitar-shaped horns that measure up to a metre in length, this desert antelope stands up to 125cm tall and weighs up to 220kg when fully grown. Their white coat reflects sunlight and helps keep the Oryx cool, while a dark stripe through the eye is thought to protect its eyesight from the glare of the sun.
The animal formerly inhabited areas across the whole of north Africa, particularly the transitional zones between true desert (Sahara) and the Sahel.
The Oryx feeds on a variety of foods – primarily grasses as well as leaves, fruit, trees and shrubs. It can go up ten months without drinking water by hydrating itself from the moisture within the vegetation that it consumes.
It breeds all year around and females usually give birth to one calf. Like all hoofed animals, young are able to get up and follow their mothers within an hour of being born and this particular species can feed independently after four months. The calf will stay with its herd and reaches maturity at about two years of age, living for up to 20 years in total.
Over-hunting, coupled with habitat destruction, led to the extinction of the Scimitar-horned Oryx in the wild during the early 1990s. However, a number of Zoological facilities – including Fota Wildlife Park – have assisted north African governments in reintroducing the antelope into a number of National Parks in Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal in recent years.
Did You Know?
The Oryx can sense rainfall far away and will travel up to 80kms to feed on freshly sprouted vegetation.
The Fota Connection.
A male born at the Park in 2003 has been successfully re-introduced into the wild in Dghoumes National Park, Tunisia. He is now the dominant bull in a group of 17 animals and has successfully sired a number of calves.
His displays of wild behaviour – including being wary of humans and protecting the herd from other possibly dominant males – demonstrates the success that re-introduction programmes can have.
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