Scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah)

Scimitar-Horned Oryx

Go past the giraffe house and the Amur leopards to find us in our new home at Wild Explorers!

Fast facts

Status Extinct in the Wild

Size Head-body: 159-175cm, shoulder height: 102-125cm

Weight Males: 180-200kg, females: 130 -180kg

Gestation 8 - 8.5 months

Young 1

Life span Up to 30 years

What do I eat?

These oryx change their eating habits depending on the season. If there is ground vegetation available (grass) they will graze, but they will browse on other plants available during hot, dry season, including their preferred fruit, the wild melon, which gives them plenty of moisture. 


Where do I live?

Scimitar-horned oryx are aridland specialists, which mean they are perfectly adapted to live along the edge of deserts. Oryx were once found in large herds across southern and northern edges of the Sahara Desert in Africa.


When a female is close to giving birth, she will separate herself from the herd for up to a week. Births usually occur in the two month rainy season so there is plenty for the females to eat whilst they are feeding their young.  The calves are very light in colour so they can hide in vegetation for two weeks after they are born.  The young can graze and browse for themselves at around 2-10 months. 


Only a few large predators inhabit the arid environment of the scimitar-horned oryx. These include spotted hyenas, African wild dogs, cheetahs, golden jackals and vultures who would probably prey on the young and ill. 


The once abundant scimitar-horned oryx (SHO) was assessed as Extinct in the Wild in 2000 and only exists today because it has been kept and bred in captivity. Hunting, fragmentation and competition with livestock caused their decline in the wild. Large numbers of oryx in captivity have led to a reintroduction of SHO in Chad, where the oryx are now beginning to breed in the wild, and reintroductions to Tunisia, where approximately 250 oryx are distributed across four protected areas. The Tunisian reintroductions began in 1985 with 10 SHO from Marwell and Edinburgh Zoo (co-ordinated by ZSL). These were released into Bou Hedma National Park. In 1999 and 2007 Marwell co-ordinated the release SHO into three more protected areas within their former historic range. We now focus on factors that will affect the long term health of these populations.

Did you know?

The horns of the scimitar-horned oryx are the longest of all the oryx, measuring up to 150cm. This is longer than they are tall! 

The light coloured coat helps to reflect and reduce heat.

They can go for months without water by eating plants with a high water content.

Scimitar-horned oryx calves are able to run as fast as the adults as early as 20 days old!


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Absolutely brilliant day for my 11 year old son worth every penny! He said it was the best day of his life ! It was truly an amazing experience for us both and he can't wait to go back and do it all again. Katie our zoo keeper was the best… Read full reviewSarah, 8th October 2017