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Beisa Oryx in the Samburu Complex, Kenya

Oryx drinking Another animal which is more easily seen in Samburu than in other places is the Beisa Oryx, which is a close relative of the familiar Southern African Gemsbok.
They live, in arid grassland and bushland, in mixed herds of up to 60, but much smaller numbers are more usually seen in Samburu herds. They can go without water for quite some time, as they have a lower rate of water turnover than camels, but where water is available, they drink, like here at the Uaso Nyiro river. It is often worth spending time on the bridge over the river, between Samburu and Buffalo Springs if possible, especially at dawn, to watch animals and birds coming down to drink.
The sparring contest between these two Oryx (left) went on for some considerable time, with other oryx often wandering over to get a closer look at what was happening. Oryx horns are around 75cm long, so herd members often stay at least a metre apart, except when resting, but even then, they often face in opposite directions!
Duncan's Oryx sketches
Oryx/gemsbok in Etosha NP, Namibia
Fighting oryx

In early 2003, a lioness in the Samburu complex hit the news headlines because she took to 'kidnapping' baby oryxes then trying to bring them up, letting them go back to their mothers to feed! She then did not feed on oryxes, although she was, of course, physically very close to them, but killed other species of antelope instead.

This particular baby Oryx was at least ¼ mile from its mother, whom we couldn't see at all - in fact we had to wait quite some time to see if the baby was really an orphan, with it sometimes calling and running about to look for its mother.


Some people who have seen this photo have remarked how like a foal this baby oryx is: the 'Latin' family name for the group which includes Oryx is Hippotragus - 'horse-like'
Baby Beisa Oryx
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Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
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