Size Head and body: 153-235cm. Tail length: 45-90cm
Weight 54-75kg, males tend to be bigger than females.
Gestation 8 months
Life span Unknown in the wild, around 20 years in captivity.
Arabian oryx are grazers and will eat different types of grasses, but they are also known to eat herbs, shrubs, buds, bulbs and roots. They will gain the moisture they need to survive from the plants they eat and can go for long periods without drinking, but will drink if water is available.
To stay cool and to avoid the heat from the sun, these antelope are mostly active early in the day and later in the evening, and can be seen resting in shade during the day.
They use their front hooves to make small ditches or depressions in the ground so they can lie in the cool sand; and to protect themselves from high winds they can rest close to shrubs and trees.
Arabian oryx live in arid plains and sand dunes.
These antelope were once found in many areas across the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Sinai in Egypt. Sadly due to overhunting these animals were classed as Extinct in the Wild in 1972.
With the help of conservation efforts and reintroduction programmes, there are now populations of Arabian oryx found in areas of Oman, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Arabian oryx are social animals and can be seen in groups of around 10 individuals but they have also been seen in larger groups of up to 100! Most of these smaller groups consist of a male and females with their young. These antelope do not have a particular breeding season, as they can give birth at any time.
A female will have one calf at a time, and they are born with a brown coat with markings on their tail and knees. The young are weaned from their mother by 3½ to 4½ months and will look like the adults with their white colouring at around 6 months old.
Arabian oryx are mature and able to breed from 2½ to 3½ years old.
Due to their large size and horns adult Arabian oryx are rarely hunted by other animals. However oryx calves may be targeted by predators such as jackals.
These animals have faced many problems linked with hunting, for both food sport, and for live-capture for private collections. After World War II the populations of wild Arabian oryx were heavily hunted at a fast rate, as there was an increase in the use of firearms and motorised transport to hunt these animals. This led to the Arabian oryx becoming extinct in the wild by 1972, which is when the last wild recorded animal was hunted.
Some Arabian oryx were taken in to captivity during the 1960s, and a captive breeding programme was put in place to protect the species. This has since led to reintroduction programmes in Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel, and in 2008 it was estimated that populations of now wild Arabian oryx grew to around 1,100 animals. These antelope can still be found in animal collections worldwide and many are part of captive breeding programmes. Conservation efforts are still ongoing in the wild to protect the species for the future, and the reintroduction of the Arabian oryx is considered to be a great success story.
Arabian oryx are well adapted for life in the desert, as their white coat helps to reflect the rays from the sun and their hooves are splayed to prevent them sinking in to the sandy ground.
Both male and female Arabian oryx have long straight horns that can reach around 68cm long!
The volunteering day was well organised and a great opportunity to give back to Marwell and offer a little help. We all had a great day and most definitely be back to help where we can, also recommend to anyone else who can offer their time. Paul, SSE, 23rd May 2018