Setswana Name: 
Scientific Name: 
Oryx gazella

Shoulder height: 1,2m

Mass: 240kg (bull), 210kg (cow)

Average horn length: 85cm

Record horn length (Botswana): 121,9cm

Identification pointers: Heavily built with thick neck; distinct black facial and body markings; long horse-like tail and long straight horns. Should not be confused with any other species.


Heavily built with a short, thick neck and distinct black-and-white markings on the head body and legs; has long, black, horse-like tail. Body colour greyish-fawn, separated from white underparts by streak along flanks. Black patches on upper part of legs and along top of rump. Calves fawn and lack body markings. Both sexes carry the long, almost straight, transversely ridged, rapier-like horns; those of bull are shorter and more robust.


Open, dry country but woodland, grassveld and dune country. Availability of water is not as essential habitat requirement. Gemsbok is widely distributed throughout Botswana except in the northern and southern parts of the eastern sector.


Gregarious, occurring in herds of about 15. Sometimes in larger numbers, particularly during rains. They may occur in mixed herds (consisting of bulls, cows and young of different ages) or nursery herds (cows and young); solitary bulls are often seen. A territorial bull will herd a mixed or nursery herd into his territory and only he will mate with receptive cows. Gemsbok are usually forced by the nature of their hostile environment to be nomadic, moving to fresh vegetation growth following rain.


Although mainly grazers they also include browse, seedpods and fruits such as tsama melon in their diet.


Single calf after a gestation period of about 264 days, usually in summer. The calf hides and will move with the mother at night to a new resting-place. Calves usually 3-6 weeks old before joining the herd.