Oryx Part I: The Antelopes of Africa, 3 of 35 (and the Critters that Eat Them)

The next few posts are that little bit more special (though they all are), so it's taken longer than usual to bring together...


Continuing on our Antelopes of Africa theme, this - and the next few posts - are about one of the most elegant of the antelopes, the humble Oryx. An animal that is essentially a unicorn… except their horns grew a different direction.


Oryx, otherwise known as their Afrikaans name “Gemsbok” – which are sexually monomorphic, meaning both males and females possess horns – are absolute survivors when it comes to side-stepping predation and tolerating the harshest of environments.


The suite of photos I’ve shared here I captured between 2015 and 2019, on travels through East and southern Africa, and illustrate the incredible extremities of environments these antelope can be found in all over Africa; environments most other animals would perish in.


Brodie Akacich, Shani Preller and anyone else who loves oryx as much as we do, these next posts are dedicated to you.


Dating back to 2015, when my African experiences first began, oryx were one of the first antelopes I saw – only fleeting glances of springbok, blesbok and bushbuck came prior, seen from various vehicles while hitch-hiking Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, where I later completed my guiding course.


From the moment you lay eyes on an oryx it’s impossible to not be instantly awed by their long, sword-like coffee-coloured horns (the first thing you see), Phantom of the Opera-esq mysterious face masks and elegant sandy-hued hides mounted on a powerful equine body - their graceful black-and-white sock-adorned legs, densely-plumed horse-like black tail swishing over their creamy-white bottoms (their “follow-me” signal), and thick-necked antilopine head in perpetual motion.


If you haven’t picked up on the respect and sentiment naturalists like me hold for these formidable creatures, the following photos should do that job…


You’ll notice, from the breadth of climatically, regionally-isolated environments these photos are taken in, how adaptable they must be to survive with often limited water, food, shelter and risk of predation 24-hours a day. I’m unfortunately missing images of oryx from some locations eg. Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa, though they’re traditionally not found in that kind of densely-vegetated environment.


Images are posted in order as follows:

1. Intro photo (so you know what they look like) of an Oryx in Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana, Oct 2019.

2. Palmwag Nature Reserve, Namibia, Jan 2016.

3a. Etosha National Park, Namibia, Jul 2016.

3b. Etosha National Park, Namibia, Jul 2016.

3c. Etosha National Park, Namibia, Oct 2017.

4a. Kunene Region Desert, North of Brandberg, Namibia, Dec 2015.

4b. Kunene Region Desert, North of Brandberg, Namibia, Dec 2015.

5a. Sossusvlei Sand Dunes, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia, Jan 2016.

5b. Sesriem, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia, Jan 2016.

6. Central Kalahari Game Reserve (wet season green flourish), Botswana, Mar 2016.

7a. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (prev. known as Gemsbok National Park), bordering Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, Nov 2017.

7b. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (wet season green flourish), Apr 2018.


The next post will describe more of the oryx’s physical characteristics, and include more close-up images of their stunning features and behaviours.