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GEMSBOK / ORYX - Oryx gazella

A quick look at the habitat of the gemsbok immediately draws a realisation of the inherent strength and survival capabilities of this animal. It ranks as one of Southern Africa's most sought after species, an exotic looking trophy compared with many of the other more common antelope.

habits
Forming mixed herds of 12 or more dominated by a herd bull, gemsbok are most active at dawn and dusk especially around water. They are often easily spotted due to their preference for open areas and their black and white masked faces are easy to pick out. Mature Gemsbok bulls become solitary and are territorial although clashes are seldom fatal. Female Gemsbok hide their young for the first few months after birth before being introduced to the herd.

Both females and male Gemsbok have the long, straight, ringed horns used successfully and effectively against predators like lion and leopard. 

Ranging primarily through the expanse of the Kalahari and its fringes, the Gemsbok is adapted for desert and semi-desert life in unique ways. They can go for extended periods without water, have large hooves for even weight displacement in the sand and a unique temperature mechanism which allows their body heat to rise to dangerously high levels.

hunting tips - the hunt
Gemsbok are tough animals with a survival instinct unequalled in other antelope. Your first shot has to count and must hit a vital area. Therefore it is essential to get in close and have a good shot. They feed mostly in the mornings and tend to hole up in the shade during the heat of the day, often lying down. They blend very well with their natural surroundings and one will often not see them until they burst away.

hunting tips - the calibre
A good medium to heavy long shooting plains game calibre is needed such as the 300's and 7mm Magnums.

hunting tips - the trophy
Both males and females make good trophies with males carrying heavier bases but on average shorter horns. It is difficult to distinguish between males and females, particularly at a distance or in thicker cover. Often males horns tend to form a slight cup-like shape from just above the bases and may flow slightly backwards when viewed from the side.

The quickest way to judge a good trophy is to compare the ratio of smooth horn to ringed horn. Older animals will have a longer portion of smooth horn above the ringed section which should start from wide bases. More than half of the total horn length should be smooth and often PHs will refer to a good set of horns as shining, denoting prolonged use and an older animal.

hunting tips - where
Both males and females make good trophies with males carrying heavier bases but on average shorter horns. It is difficult to distinguish between males and females, particularly at a distance or in thicker cover. Often males horns tend to form a slight cup-like shape from just above the bases and may flow slightly backwards when viewed from the side.

The quickest way to judge a good trophy is to compare the ratio of smooth horn to ringed horn. Older animals will have a longer portion of smooth horn above the ringed section which should start from wide bases. More than half of the total horn length should be smooth and often PHs will refer to a good set of horns as shining, denoting prolonged use and an older animal.

Four subspecies are listed for hunting purposes:

Kalahari Gemsbok - the most common and widely hunted with the better trophies coming from Namibia, Botswana and South Africa
Angolan Gemsbok
Fringe-eared Oryx found in Tanzania and Kenya being smaller bodied with shorter horns
Beisa Oryx - found in Kenya and northwards through Ethiopia and Somalia

 

Kalahari Gemsbok

Gemsbok - facts and figures


* Gemsbok are one of those classic desert species, plying the dunes of the Kalahari as ships on an inland ocean - their ability and adaptation to survival in such harsh conditions draws respect from all who pursue them.

Sadly they are widely introduced throughout South Africa, often into conditions that see them confused and in poor physical health.

Gemsbok are best hunted in the Northern regions of South Africa and not in the dense coastal areas.


* When Gemsbok run their large hooves displace their body weight across the shifting sands allowing them to keep well ahead of anyone on foot.

Even if you're in a vehicle in the true dunes of the kalahari they can still keep ahead of you - that's how well they are adapted.


CITES
No restrictions apply

SCI minimum scores - Rifle
Kalahari Gemsbok - 88 "
Beisa or Fringe Eared Oryx - 60 "


 

Domain of the desert Prince - Kalahari Gemsbok