Royalty-Free/Corbis |

Herds of ten to forty gemsbock are not uncommon and groups of up to a hundred have been recorded.

These animals are frequently found in association with other species of gazelles and sometimes zebras, foraging for grasses and leaves.


Gemsbock can go many days without water, but in the more arid parts of their range, they sometimes dig a trough in a dried-out river bed to reach the water table below and quench their thirst.

The males are often found alone and may be quite aggressive. When they fight, they lower their heads and fence, their long horns pointing straight out.

These "sword fights" are for display and rarely shed blood.

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Animal Facts

Name: Gemsbok (Oryx gazella)

Family: Bovidae (Cattle and Relatives)


Range: From Ethiopia and Somalia to Namibia and eastern South Africa

Habitat: Arid regions and savannas

Diet: Grasses, herbs, juicy roots, fruits, melons, leaves, buds and bulbs

Head and Body Length: 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m)

Tail Length: 31 to 35 inches (80 to 90 cm)

Shoulder Height: 4 to 4.5 feet (1.2 to 1.4 m)

Weight: 400 to 500 pounds (180 to 225 kg)

Life Cycle: Gestation 260 to 300 days, one young born

Description: Buffy tan to brown coat; black, halter-like facial markings with white patches; very long, ringed horns; short mane; males have black tuft of hairs on throat

Conservation Status: Lower Risk (Conservation Dependent)

Major Threat: Habitat loss; hunting

What Can I Do?: Visit the African Wildlife Foundation for information on how you can help.