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Gemsbok photographed on an Aves Western Cape Birding Tour.

The Gemsbok was photographed in The Karoo National Park, Western Cape, South Africa on a customized Aves Western Cape Birding Tour.


The Gemsbok - Oryx gazelle - is a large antelope and is the largest species in the Oryx genus. It is native to the arid regions  of Southern Africa. Gemsbok generally occur in semi-arid to arid grasslands, light woodland, sandy and stony plains, dunes and alkaline flats. They live in herds of about 10-40 animals, which consist of a dominant male, a few non-dominant males, and females. Gemsbok can reach running speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour or 37 mph.


The Gemsbok is a large antelope of striking appearance with long, spearlike horns. They are light brownish-grey to tan, with lighter patches to the bottom rear of the rump. Their tails are long and black. A blackish stripe extends from the chin down the bottom edge of the neck through the join of the shoulder and leg along the lower flank of each side to the blackish section of the rear leg. They have muscular necks and shoulders and their legs have white 'socks' with a black patch on the front of both the front legs and both genders have long straight horns. They are widely hunted for their spectacular horns that average 85 centimetres (33 in) in length.


Food consists mainly of coarse grasses and leaves they browse from thorny shrubs. In desert areas they consume thick leaved plants, wild melons, as well as roots and tubers they dig out of the ground. Gemsbok may drink if water is available but can survive days or even weeks without it.


Males from the age of five or six establish territories and round up females and young into his territory to gain sole mating rights. Single calves are born to females older than two years, after a pregnancy of around 264 days. The calf remains hidden during the day, but may venture out at night with the mother to a new site. At three to six weeks of age, the calf will join the herd and have a lifespan of around twenty years.

Game Viewing

Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create a tour for you or book on one of the following Aves Birding Tour/Safaris/Adventures see these striking antelope: -

Aves Arid Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure.

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

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