Fun East African Oryx Facts For Kids

Martha Martins
Jan 06, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
East African oryx facts, a species of antelope native to East Africa.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.7 Min

Do you know which animals raise their body temperatures in order to avoid the loss of water content from their bodies through sweating or evaporation? Don't worry! The answer is an East African oryx. To learn more exciting facts about this species, continue reading this article.

An oryx is a common name given to four large antelope species that live in Africa and the Middle East. These species are the East African oryx, scimitar-horned oryx, Arabian oryx, and Gemsbok.

As the name suggests, the East African oryx (Oryx beisa) is an antelope species native to East Africa and has two subspecies: the common beisa oryx (Oryx beisa beisa) and the fringe-eared oryx (Oryx beisa callotis).

The common beisa oryx subspecies are found in the northern parts of the Tana River in Kenya and other parts of Africa. In contrast, the fringe-eared oryx subspecies are found in some parts of Tanzania and southern parts of the Tana River in Kenya.

To know few more facts about the East African oryx, scroll down through this article, and if you like reading, consider our articles on greater kudu facts and zorse facts.

East African Oryx Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an East African oryx?

An East African oryx is a species of antelope in the Bovidae family.

What class of animal does an East African oryx belong to?

An East African oryx (Oryx beisa) belongs to class Mammalia and is native to East Africa.

How many East African oryx are there in the world?

The East African oryx are distributed across Africa, primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Tanzania. East African oryx antelopes' estimated population is around 11,000 to 13,000 mature individuals across its distribution range.

Where does an East African oryx live?

The East African oryx antelopes are found in semidesert and desert areas, short grass steppes, and dry savannas.

What is an East African oryx's habitat?

An East African oryx (Oryx beisa) prefers semidesert areas, especially three habitat types, grasslands, wooded grasslands, and bushlands.

However, it changes the habitats as the season's change, they prefer grassland habitat in the wet season and bushland in the dry season. One of the oryx beisa subspecies, the Common beisa oryx (Oryx beisa beisa), is found in semideserts areas and short grass steppes throughout the Horn of Africa and north of the Tana River in Kenya.

In contrast, other subspecies, the Fringe-eared oryx (Oryx beisa callotis), is found to the south of the Tana River in Kenya and some parts of Tanzania.

Who do East African Oryx live with?

The East African oryx antelopes move in groups known as herds, usually consisting of up to 40 individuals, with females at the front guarded by the eldest males at the end of the herd.

How long does an East African oryx live?

An East African oryx (Oryx beisa) lifespan is up to 18 years in wild and captive habitats.

How do they reproduce?

Little is known about the mating behavior of an East African oryx. Females in this species reach sexual maturity at the age of around two years, while the males reach sexual maturity at five years.

These animals breed throughout the year, and the female oryx gives birth to a single calf after a gestation period of eight or nine months. During the gestation period, the female oryx isolates from the herd.

After birth, the calf stays in hiding for two to three weeks and joins the herd. The newborn calf is brown at birth and develops markings in three weeks.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of an East African oryx or beisa oryx species is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. Out of the four recognized oryx species, the Scimitar-horned oryx and the Arabian oryx are considered extinct in the wild, while the Gemsbok are considered least concerned.

The reintroduction programs have saved the Scimitars and the Arabian oryx from extinction.

East African Oryx Fun Facts

What does an East African oryx look like?

The Beisa oryx a beautiful creature with horns

An East African oryx has a grey coat with a white underside, separated by a black stripe. It has black stripes from its eyes to its mouth, on the forehead, nose, and the place where the head joins the neck. It has a small chestnut-colored mane with straight horns, usually of length 30 in (76.2 cm).

How cute are they?

The Beisa oryx looks like a beautiful creature because of its long and straight horns, along with the black markings on its white face and front legs.

How do they communicate?

These animals communicate with one another primarily through gestures and dominance ritual displays. For example, the male in the herds displays the dominance rituals like a head nod or an ear-point display, where it walks with head and horns held high and its ears pointing forwards.

Sometimes, the clashing of horns is involved in male dominance and continues until the dominance hierarchy is established. They also use stares and postures to communicate.

How big is an East African oryx?

An East African oryx stands 3.6 to 3.9 ft (1.1 to 1.2 m) at the shoulder with a head and body length between 5.2 to 6.2 ft (1.6 - 1.9 m). Compared to other oryx species, it is smaller than the Gemsbok, native to southern Africa, and larger than the Arabian oryx, which is native to the Arabian Peninsula.

How fast can an East African oryx run?

An East African oryx can reach a speed up to 37 mph (59.5 kph).

How much does an East African oryx weigh?

In East African oryx species, the males weigh between 370 to 461 lb (168 to 209 kg), while females weigh between 256 to 414 lb (116 to 188 kg). However, these animals are considered lighter than the Gemsbok species.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Usually, a male antelope is called a buck, and a female antelope is called a doe.

What would you call a baby East African oryx?

The baby of an East African oryx is referred to as a calf.

What do they eat?

An East African oryx is a herbivore, and its diet usually consists of rough grass, thick leaves, fruits, and buds. They also eat melons, tubers, and roots which are the primary sources of moisture.

The plants become more succulent after absorbing the dew at night. That is why the oryx prefers to feed at night, as the moisture from these plants allows it to survive without water for a longer duration. They are also known to eat the poisonous adenium plants during the dry season.

Are they dangerous?

Generally, oryx are not aggressive animals. Usually, they prefer to run away from their predators. But when they are cornered, they defend themselves with the help of their horns. The oryx horns are solid and powerful enough to kill a lion.

That is why they are sometimes called sabre antelopes. Also, some oryx are territorial, and some are not. Therefore, the dung deposits are used as the territory markings by the territorial oryx. The non-territorial oryx lives with herds of females and their calves.

Would they make a good pet?

Though the East African oryx looks appealing with its long, straight horns and black markings on the white face and front legs, its diet and habitat preferences make it challenging to be domesticated as a pet. And also, it is illegal to domesticate the endangered species in some parts of its distribution range.

Did you know...

The common beisa oryx and the fringe-eared oryx can adapt to extreme hot and low sources of water conditions by raising their body temperature to 116 F (47 C). They exhibit this behavior in order to avoid the loss of water content from their bodies through sweating or evaporation.

Another interesting fact is that hunting these animals is permitted with a valid hunting license in New Mexico. That is why the oryx are brought from the Kalahari Desert in Africa to New Mexico.

Why is the East African oryx also called Beisa?

There is no information available to justify how these animals have got the name, Beisa. However, it is presumed that it has got the name from its scientific name, Oryx beisa.

Are East African oryx endangered?

Yes, the East African oryx is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. The primary natural predators of these species are lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs.

In addition, hunting these animals for meat and horns in some parts of Africa adds to their endangered status. Conservation efforts are made by planning captive breeding programs across their distribution range, and the calves are reintroduced into the wild.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our reindeer facts and lion facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable East African oryx coloring pages.

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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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