Antelope: Gemsbuck (Oryx gazella)

Pieta Pieterse

Kleinmond, South Africa

Artist's Description

The gemsbok or gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) is a large antelope in the Oryx genus. It is native to the arid regions (for example the Kalahari Desert) of Southern Africa, but formerly some authorities included the East African Oryx as a subspecies. The name is derived from the Dutch name of the male chamois, gemsbok. Although there are some superficial similarities in appearance (especially in the colour of the face area), the chamois and the oryx are not closely related.
Gemsbok are light brownish-grey to tan in colour, with lighter patches to the bottom rear of the rump. Their tails are long and black in colour. 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. Comparably, the East African Oryx lacks a dark patch at the base of the tail, has less blackish on the legs (none on the hindlegs), and less blackish on the lower flanks.
Gemsbok are about 1.4 metres (4 ft 7 in) at the shoulder, and males can weigh between 230–250 kilograms (510–550 lb) while females weigh 200–210 kilograms (440–460 lb).
Gemsbok are widely hunted for their spectacular horns that average 85 centimetres (33 in) in length. The only outward difference between males and females is their horns, and many hunters mistake females for males each year. In males, these horns are perfectly straight, extending from the base of the skull to a slight outward and rearward angle. Females have longer thinner horns that have a slight outward and rearward curve in addition to their angle.
Female Gemsbok use their horns to defend themselves and their offspring from predators while male Gemsbok primarily use their horns to defend their territory from other males.2
Gemsbok are one of the few antelope species where female trophies are sometimes more desirable than male ones. A gemsbok horn can be fashioned into a natural trumpet and, according to some authorities, can be used as a shofar.
Gemsbok live in herds of about 10-40 animals, which consist of a dominant male, a few non-dominant males, and females.
Gemsbok are mainly desert-dwelling and do not depend on drinking to supply their physiological water needs.
They can reach running speeds of up to 56 kilometres per hour (35 mph).
Info : Wikipedia
Sketch done in charcoal and white chalk on paper
by Pieta Pieterse

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