August 7, 2018

Tracking scimitar-horned oryx behavior

Scimitar-horned oryx are not usually going to come right up for a close encounter when you visit Fossil Rim, unlike addax. Let’s learn about their behavior here at the park from Ben Jernigan, animal care specialist – hoofstock.

“They are more flighty than most of our hoofstock species, as far as people are concerned. Compare them to addax, for example.

Scimitar-horned oryx mothers can be very protective and aggressive, although the species is generally more laid-back and standoffish.

We do have a few scimitar that will approach cars for food, especially if 688 Orange is doing it, but for the most part they like to stay in the shade and away from visitors. The scimitar usually stay in one big group, especially during the time of year when we have calves.

(Front Pasture) animals like blackbuck and white-tailed deer get along with the scimitar fine. I’ve seen our scimitar bull push the female roan around a couple of times.

Scimitar-horned oryx do not generally bully blackbuck in our Front Pasture, but getting too close after pelleted food is distributed could cause the oryx to “lay down the law”.

You might occasionally see the scimitar run off another species if they try to sneak too close during feeding time, but generally they are pretty laid-back with other animals. For comparison, the gemsbok are more aggressive toward people, while gemsbok and sable will bully other animals around during feeding time.

As far as calves go, our scimitar mothers do a great job. We try to get neonate exams done 24-48 hours after they are born. Some of those moms become very aggressive and protective.

As Ben Jernigan mentioned, scimitar-horned oryx enjoy being in the shade and generally staying away from vehicles, so they can sometimes be difficult to have a close encounter with.

They are very good at tucking their calves. We will spend weeks looking for calves that have been hidden in the woods. Scimitar moms are some of the best at that, along with waterbuck, roan and gemsbok.

I’ve found some of the scimitar babies myself, and it’s pretty exciting every time to go do that exam. It’s great to hold them when they are that small. They are adorable, but more importantly we get to make sure they are all right and mom is taking care of them.”


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