The gemsbok is a large antelope native to Southern Africa. It is light brownish-grey to tan in color, with lighter patches toward the bottom rear of the rump. Its tail is long and black in color. A blackish stripe extends from the chin down the lower edge of the neck, through the juncture of the shoulder and leg along the lower flank of each side to the blackish section of the rear leg. The gemsbok has a muscular neck and shoulders, and its legs have white 'socks' with a black patch on the front of both the front legs and both genders have long, straight horns.
Gemsbok occur in the arid regions of Southern Africa, such as the Kalahari Desert. They inhabit stony plains, sandy dunes, brushland, savanna and can often be found in mountains where they visit springs and salt licks.
Gemsbok are gregarious and live in herds of about 10-40 animals. These herds consist of a dominant male, a few non-dominant males, and females. Gemsbok are generally grazers but change to browsing during the dry season or when the grass is sparse and may dig up to a meter deep to find roots and tubers. They usually feed early in the morning and late afternoon to avoid midday heat and may sometimes be active on moonlit nights. These are mainly desert-dwelling antelopes and they do not depend on drinking water to supply their physiological needs. Gemsbok are excellent runners and when threatened they can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph).
Gemsbok are polygynous, with one resident male mating with the receptive females in the herd. The male is known to secure exclusive mating access to the females by attempting to herd mixed or nursery herds onto his territory. Gemsbok do not have a specified breeding season and may breed year-round. Before giving birth pregnant females leave the herd. The gestation period lasts 270 days and mothers give birth to 1-2 offspring. The calf remains hidden 6 weeks after birth, after which the mother and calf rejoin the herd. The calf is weaned at 3.5 months and becomes independent at 4.5 months of age. Young gemsbok reach reproductive maturity when they are 1.5-2 years old.
There are no major threats facing gemsbok at present. However, these antelopes are widely hunted for their spectacular horns and meat.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total gemsbok population size is around 373,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.