White antelope, Screwhorn antelope

Addax nasomaculatus
Population size
Life Span
19-25 yrs
60-125 kg
95-115 cm
120-130 cm

The addax is an antelope of middle size, perfectly suited to living in harsh desert landscapes. A native of the Sahara Desert for thousands of years, it has thrived in regions where few other animals could survive. As with most other antelopes, male and female both have horns, which are slightly spiraled and can be more than a meter long. Their hooves are splayed so that they can travel on sand. Their short, glossy coat is grey-brown in the winter, fading during the summer months to almost white. Out of the antelopes, the addax is the one most adapted to the desert. It drinks very little water, surviving on the moisture from the vegetation it eats.


Found across northern Africa in the past, on both the west and east sides of the Sahara, today addax populations exist in just a fragment of their former range in Chad, Niger, and possibly along the Mali - Mauritania border. These animals inhabit semi-deserts, arid regions, and stony and sandy deserts. They can occur in extremely arid regions that have less than 100 mm rainfall per year. They also live in deserts where tussock grasses and the succulent thorn scrub cornulaca grow.

Addax habitat map



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Addax are active mainly during the night, especially in the hot season; during the day, they will dig 'beds' under shade into the sand to avoid the desert sun’s heat and to shelter from sandstorms. Individual addax can live some distance from one another in their habitat without causing any problems because of their sensory skills whereby they can detect and find each other over huge distances. They are also able to track rainfall, heading for rainy areas where there is more vegetation. Some addax live with others in herds of 5-20 individuals of males and females. The herds usually stay in one place, though they may wander when searching for food. The eldest dominant male usually leads the herd. Females establish a dominance hierarchy, the oldest animals having the highest ranking. Addax are known as "short leg" runners and cannot run very fast, so fall prey to predators which are faster.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

This species is herbivore (folivore) and eats desert grasses, and also herbs and acacia species when grass is unavailable.

Mating Habits

257-264 days
1 calf
23-39 weeks

Addax exhibit polygynous mating behavior. Males try to establish a territory of their own, attempting to keep breeding females inside the boundaries. A male will mate with a number of females in his territory. Year-round breeding occurs, with birth peaks in early spring and winter. Gestation lasts for 257-264 days, with one young being almost always the case. The calf is hidden for about the first 6 weeks and its mother suckles it 2 – 3 times each day. It is weaned at 23-39 weeks. Males are reproductively mature by about 24 months, and females at the time of the second or third summer.


Population threats

Addax are slow running, heavily built antelopes and so are easy prey for people with modern weapons. Many resident populations have been decreased or eliminated by hunting in many parts of this animal’s original range. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with tourists also affect addax by chasing them to the point of exhaustion and death. Recent droughts, increasing human population, and desertification of savanna lands have all contributed to decreasing addax populations.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total addax population size is around 30-90 mature individuals. Currently this species is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) and its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Addax are amongst the world’s most endangered mammals.
  • The addax in its native habitat is very rare but in captivity it is quite common. One of the biggest captive breeding herds is in Hanover Zoo in Germany.
  • The addax is in the "horse antelopes" family because of its horse-like build and its mane.
  • When addax populations were more abundant, they migrated seasonally between the Sahel and the Sahara, and groups of 1,000 individuals could be seen.
  • Addax walk by throwing their wide-hoofed feet sideways, thus avoiding brushing them against the opposite limb, instead, placing one foot behind the other, creating tracks in a single line.
  • Addax run in a flat gallop, with a stiff-kneed stride, because of minimal leg flexing when it is running. It is one of the slowest antelopes, this perhaps being due to its adaptation to terrain that is sandy.
  • The color of the coat of these desert antelopes changes from white in summer to dark grayish-brown in winter - an efficient way of maintaining the body’s temperature.


1. Addax Wikipedia article -
2. Addax on The IUCN Red List site -

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