Gemsbuck - Oryx gazella

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Damara Dik-dik - Madoqua kirkii | Oribi - Ourebia ourebi | Suni - Neotragus moschatus | Grysbok - Raphicerus melanotis | Sharpe's Grysbok - Raphicerus sharpii | Klipspringer - Oreotragus oreotragus | Blue Duiker - Philancomba monticola | Red Duiker - Cepholophus natalensis | Common Duiker - Sylvicapra grimmia | Steenbok - Raphicerus campestris | Bushbuck - Trogelophus scriptus | Blesbok - Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi | Bontebok- Domaliscus dorcas dorcas | Reedbuck - Redunca arundinum | Mountain Reedbuck - Redunca fulvorufula | Grey Rheebuck- Pelea capreolus | Springbuck - Antidorcas marsupialis | Impala - Aepyceros melampus melampus | Blue Wildebeest - Connochaetes taurinus | Black Wildebeest - Connochaetes gnu | Tsessebe - Domaliscus lunatus | Gemsbuck - Oryx gazella | Red Hartebeest - Alcelaphus buselaphus | Lichtenstein's Hartebeest - Sigmoceros lichtensteinii | Sable- Hippotragus niger | Roan - Hippotragus equinus | Puku - Kobus vardonii | Waterbuck - Kobus ellipsiprymnus | Red Lechwe - Kobus leche | Nyala - Tragelaphus angasii | Sitatunga - Tragelaphus spekei | Kudu - Tragelaphus strepsiceros | Eland - Taurotragus oryx | Buffalo - Syncerus caffer


Afrikaans Gemsbok
Tswana Kukama
Photo Kobus Hugo
R.W. Min 40" Max 49"
S.C.I Min 100" Max 124⅝" Measurement Method 1

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F 10cm
H 9cm

Distribution Dung
1.5 cm
Visible Male/Female Differences

Males and females are difficult to tell apart unless the udder or scrotum is visible. Males are slightly larger and more heavily built than females. Males'  horns are thicker, but shorter and blunter.

Habitat and Distribution

Arid and semi-arid open grassland, scrub and light open woodland, penetrating into savanna woodland. Truly desert adapted, survives without surface water.


A grazer but will browse if grass is not available. They dig for roots, bulbs and tubers and eat tsamma melons and gemsbok cucumbers for their water content. They get minerals by eating soil and salt at water holes.


Single calves are born at any time of year after gestation of 264 days. Females are sexually mature at two years, males at two years but do not breed until five years old. Females leave their herd to give birth. Calves lie hidden for 3-6 weeks; by the time they emerge their horns have started to grow which gave credence to the myth that they are born with horns. Mothers visit in the morning and evening to suckle and clean the calf, and may spend the night with it. 

Behavior and Habits

Because of their usually hot habitat they spend more than half of the day inactive, in shade if possible, to save energy and water and to avoid overheating. Body temperature can be allowed to rise to 45 C during the day and excess heat is dissapated at night. The blood flowing to the brain is cooled by a unique system heat exchange with blood flowing from the nasal membranes in a network of vessels called the carotid rete. They graze for long periods at night when the moisture content of the vegetation is higher. 

Breeding herds contain both males and females and groups are smaller in the dry season. Both males and females are cantankerous and there is a dominance hierarchy in both males and females in a herd. Gemsbok usually stay more than a horn's length apart because of their aggression toward each other, especially around water holes. In skirmishes the two animals cross horns near their bases and push and twist against each other.

In serious fights between bulls the combatants stand alongside one another and stab backwards and sideways over their shoulders. Dominant bulls are recognizable by their head-high stance and they have a larger scrotum and only territorial or alpha bulls are sexually active. Territories are marked with small, neat dung piles, deposited in a very low crouch so that the pellets do not scatter. Secretion from glands between the hooves of all four feet are deposited by pawing the ground or while walking around. They also thrash the leaves, bark and branches of bushes. Herds bunch around calves if spotted hyenas are detected, and the adults use their horns in defense. Groups of hyenas are usually unsuccessful in hunting adult gemsbok, which defend themselves against predators by slashing with their horns while covering their rear by backing into a thorny bush. Gemsbuck love salty mineral deposits and lick it, often making substantial holes in the process and visit them frequently.


Normally silent, snorts when alarmed

Dung and Field sign

Pellets are 1,5 cm long, 1 cm across, tapered at one end and hollow at the other. Small, neat piles of droppings, usually beside trees or large bushes,  are deposited by territorial bulls. Thrashed bushes.


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