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Scimitar Oryx

The Scimitar Oryx (Oryx dammah), is a species of oryx which formerly inhabited the whole of North Africa. It is not known today if the species is either extinct or existent in small numbers in central Niger and Chad. A global captive breeding program was initiated in the 1960s. In 1996, there were at least 1,250 captive animals held in zoos and parks around the world with a further 2,145 on ranches in Texas. A herd exists in a fenced nature preserve in Tunisia, and is being expanded with plans for reintroduction to the wild in that country. In the wild Scimitar Oryx natively inhabit steppe and desert areas.

The Scimitar Oryx is just over 40 inches at the shoulder and weighs around 440 pounds. Its coat is white with a red-brown chest and black markings on the forehead and down the length of the nose. The horns are long, thin and parallel and curve backwards (like a scimitar) and can reach 40 to 55 inches on both sexes, male and female.

Scimitar Oryx live on a diet of leaves, grass and fruit. They form herds of mixed sex containing up to seventy animals. Formerly they would gather in groups of several thousand for migration. Scimitar Oryx can survive without water for many weeks, because their kidneys prevent loss of water from urination and they can modify their body temperature to avoid perspiration.

Scimitar Oryx


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