East African Oryx

The East African oryx, also known as the beisa is a species of antelope from East Africa. It has two subspecies: this one which is the common beisa oryx found in steppe and semidesert throughout the Horn of Africa and north of the Tana River, and the fringe-eared oryx (click to access the gallery) south of the Tana River in southern Kenya and parts of Tanzania. In Kenya you will see the fringe-eared oryx mainly in Tsavo (click here to acess to the fringe-eared oryx page) and the beïsa in samburu area.


Oryx can survive long period without water (even couple of weeks). Also, certain plants, such as wild melon, underground roots and tuber, can provide enough moisture.It has unique mechanism which helps it survive in the arid and desert conditions where the temperatures are high most of the time. Unlike other mammals, oryx can rise its body temperature to prevent perspiration and loss of body-water during the day. It also uses specific network of capillaries in the nose to cool down the blood that is traveling to the brain. Cooling of the blood prevents over-heating of the brain. Oryx has excellent sense of smell. It can detect rainfall 50 miles away. Once the rainfall is detected, whole herd is on the move.


According to the IUCN Red List, the population size of this species is 8000-9000 mature individuals. This species’ numbers are decreasing and it is currently classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.The main threats to East African oryx include hunting for meat and hides and encroachment by settlement. Competition with livestock poses another serious threat to these antelopes.