Beisa, East African oryx
The East African oryx (Oryx beisa ), also known as the beisa is a species of antelope from East Africa. It has two subspecies: the common beisa oryx (Oryx beisa beisa ) found in steppe and semidesert throughout the Horn of Africa and north of the Tana River, and the fringe-eared oryx (Oryx beisa callotis ) south of the Tana River in southern Kenya and parts of Tanzania. In the past, some taxonomists considered it a subspecies of the gemsbok (Oryx gazella ), but they are genetically distinct; the diploid chromosome count is 56 for the beisa and 58 for the gemsbok. The species is listed as Endangered by the IUCN.
The East African oryx is a species of antelope from East Africa. They have a grey coat with a white underside, separated from the grey by a stripe of black. There are also black stripes where the head attaches to the neck, along the nose, from the eye to the mouth and on the forehead. The mane is small and chestnut-colored. The ringed horns are thin and straight. they are found on both sexes.
East African oryx are found in Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, parts of Tanzania, and in South Sudan. They live in semi-deserts, brush savannas and steppes.
East African oryx are social animals. They gather in herds of 5 to 40 animals, often with females moving at the front and a large male guarding from the rear. Some older males are solitary. Solitary males are often accompanied for brief periods by breeding-condition females. East African oryx are diurnal creatures. Leaving under conditions of extreme heat, these animals are able to store water by raising their body temperatures in order to avoid perspiration. When feeling danger East African oryx usually flee, however, when cornered they defend themselves with the help of their spear-like horns, sometimes causing fatal injuries.
Little is known about the mating system in East African oryx. The breeding season takes place throughout the year. Females give birth to a single calf after the gestation period that lasts 8.5-10 months. After birth, calves stay hidden for 2-6 weeks, after which they join the herd. They are usually weaned at 3.5 months. Females in this species reach reproductive maturity at 1.5-2 years of age, while males are ready to breed when they are 5 years old.
The main threats to East African oryx include hunting for meat and hides and encroachment by settlement. Competition with livestock poses another serious threat to these antelopes.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of East African oryx is 11,000-13,000 mature individuals. This species’ numbers are decreasing and it is currently classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.