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The shy and retiring Gemsbok or Oryx, has got to rate as one of Africa’s most spectacularly beautiful species of antelope. Adapted to dry desert conditions, they thrive in the searing rain starved expanses of the Kalahari, sustained by roots, tubers, thick leaved plants and melons whose stores of moisture allow the Gemsbok to be amazingly independent of water. In a rare twist, the female Gemsbok has the longer thinner horns which are angled slightly differently than the ramrod straight sabres of the male. With these, she’s able to mount an able defence of her young against the predations of lion and other predators, the broad sweep of the razor sharp ends evening the odds against the shorter arc of the predators deadly reach. Even though classified a desert, the Kalahari is amazingly alive with life. On close examination, the Gemsbok can be seen to be sharing company with at least 4 different bird species, all foraging the seemingly dry and dead earth, yielding what each needs to continue living in this amazing dry paradise.

Tswalu game reserve, South Africa.


gemsbok, oryx, desert, antelope, mammal, kalahari, africa, wildlife, wilderness, safari

Although Canadian by birth, I grew up in Africa and from an early age travel became a regular part of my life. As a result I developed an early passion for my two great loves, Africa and aviation. Being fortunate to return to Africa every year with our own safari company “Explorations Africa”, all of my photos of wildlife are taken in their natural and unstaged settings. Please visit us at

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  • David Clarke
    David Clarkeover 3 years ago

  • carol brandt
    carol brandtover 3 years ago

    again you had me diving into this wonderful shot in an attempt to soak up everything you saw… couldn’t see all four birds but had a great time examining that fabulous tree… very interesting bit about the difference in horns Dan

  • Always appreciate your enthusiasm Carol. The pleasure of stopping, sitting and just drinking in the details makes for so much of the delight of observing wildlife and wild places.

    – Dan MacKenzie

  • terezadelpilar~ art & architecture
    terezadelpilar...over 3 years ago

  • Thanks so much!

    – Dan MacKenzie

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