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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Common Beisa Oryx: A Beautiful Antelope from Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

The Common Beisa Oryx is a sub species of the ‘Oryx beisa’, a species of antelope from East Africa. It is found in the steppes and semi desert areas north of the Tana river in Kenya.

Beisa Oryx horns in perfect symmetry
This very beautiful antelope is quite a sight with its grey coat and black and white stripes. But, its best feature is its thin and straight ringed horns that are found on both sexes. The horns measure an impressive 75-80 cm on an already decently sized body making it a potent combination.

The sharp horns of Beisa Oryx
I found large herds of these Common Beisa Oryx in the semi-arid grasslands of the Samburu National Reserve in North Kenya where they eat grasses, leaves, fruit and buds. These antelopes survive the harsh dry conditions by harnessing their ability to store water by raising their body temperatures.

A large herd of Beisa Oryx at Samburu National Reserve
These antelopes are mostly seen in medium sized herds (5 to 30 members) as how I saw them during my various game drives. And like most other antelopes, they can run pretty fast too.

Beisa Oryx and their stunningly distinctive horns
The Beisa Oryx is classified as ‘Near Threatened’ in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Poaching (for meat and hides) and encroachment by  settlement and livestock remain the major threat to this species, especially since the majority of the population remains outside protected areas.

Beisa Oryx make a run for it
Their name is based on the following: Orux (greek) for gazelle or antelope and Beisa is from Beza (Amharic: an Ethiopian language from the Amhara district where this Oryx lives).



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