ARABIAN ORYX

QUICK FACTS

Scientific Name

Oryx leucoryx

Species Survival Plan

Yes

Habitat

Desert

Predators

Man and jackal

Food

Grasses, herbs, tubers and roots

Originally Native To

Arabian Peninsula

Height

36 inches at shoulder

Weight

Male 250 lb.
Female 200 lb.

Characteristics

Antelope with long (2.5 - 3 feet) straight horns for both sexes; tasseled tail

Gestation Period

8 months

Offspring

1 calf

Birth Season

Any month

Lifespan

Wild ?
Captivity 20 years

Social Behavior

Nomadic herd centered on bull; other males solitary

iucn_badge_vulnerable

ABOUT THE ARABIAN ORYX

The Arabian oryx is one of the best desert-adapted large mammals, capable of living in a waterless, hot, high-wind habitat where few other species can survive. Arabian oryx live in a variety of desert habitats including stony plains, wadis, and sand dunes.

They will drink water when they find it, but can exist for weeks without it. Water is obtained by eating plants. Arabian oryx mainly eat grasses and herbs, but they will also eat roots, tubers, bulbs, and melons. Succulent bulbs and melons are the primary items for moisture.

Arabian oryx eat mainly at night when the plants are most succulent after absorbing nighttime humidity. They also obtain moisture from the condensation left on rocks and vegetation after heavy fog.

Arabian oryx have a number of strategies to help them cope with desert conditions, including being able to let their body temperature drastically increase, as well as concentrating their urine and removing moisture from their feces. When the weather is hottest, oryx will spend most of the day sheltering in shade and then forage for food at night. In cooler weather, they bask in the sun and feed during the day to keep warm.

The Arabian oryx has a white coat with black markings on its face, and its legs are dark brown to black. Its predominantly white coat reflects the sun’s heat in summer, and in winter the hairs on its back rise to attract and catch the sun’s warmth.

They became classified as “Extinct In The Wild” in 1972 and were first reintroduced in Oman with 10 animals in 1982, followed by reintroductions in Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Jordan. In 1986, they were upgraded to “Endangered.”

While there are approximately 1,220 wild oryx across the Arabian Peninsula, the population is considered stable, hence the IUCN status designation of “Vulnerable” as of 2020. In fact, it is close to being upgraded to “Near Threatened.”

There are more than 6,000 of these oryx in semi-captivity. Arabian oryx in protected areas are generally safe, but those that wander out of the protected areas are in danger of being poached. Most wild Arabian oryx are located in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

In 2011, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reclassified the Arabian oryx to “Vulnerable” from Endangered, marking the first time an animal species that was once Extinct In The Wild improved in status by three-full categories out of six on its Red List of Threatened Species. However, this species remains under threat from illegal hunting, overgrazing, and droughts.

They have broad hooves for walking great distances on loose gravel and sand. Lance-like, three-foot long horns are weapons used for defense and fighting.

Calves lie hidden for about a month, with just short periods of activity.  They are weaned by 4.5 months of age. The main non-human predators of Arabian oryx are thought to be jackals, which prey on calves.

At Fossil Rim, Arabian oryx live in the Game Preserve pasture.

MEET THE NEIGHBORS

  • Scimitar-Horned Oryx

    The scimitar-horned oryx once again roams the grasslands of Chad. Extinct in the wild in the late 1980s, 23 animals were released to native habitat...

    Read More
  • Aoudad

    Aoudads, also known as Barbary sheep, are the only wild sheep in Africa. They were brought to the U.S. in the early 1900s for exhibition...

    Read More
  • Cheetah

    The sleek cheetah is built for speed and can accelerate from 0-60 mph in seconds. However, it can run only 600 yards before it is...

    Read More
  • African Spurred Tortoise

    Very little is known about African Spurred Tortoises in the wild due to lack of field research. They are solitary creatures that live in some...

    Read More
  • Addax

    There are less than 100 addax in the wild. Formerly ranging over the entire Sahara Desert of Africa, four-wheel drive access to the desert and...

    Read More

ANYTHING YOU GIVE HELPS THE ANIMALS

As a private nonprofit corporation, Fossil Rim does not receive national or state government support. Every cent spent or donated here goes in some way, directly or indirectly, toward the care of our animals.