The GEMSBOK or gemsbuck (Oryx gazella) is a large African antelope, of the Oryx genus. The name is derived from the Dutch name of the male chamois, Gemsbok. Although there are some superficial similarities in appearance (especially in the colour of the face area), the chamois and the Oryx are not closely related.
Gemsbok are light brownish-grey to tan in colour, with lighter patches to the bottom rear of the rump. Their tails are long and black in colour. A dark brown stripe extends from the chin down the bottom edge of the neck through the join of the shoulder and leg along the lower flank of each side to the brown section of the rear leg. They have muscular necks and shoulders and their legs have white 'socks' with a black patch on the front of both the front legs and both genders have long straight horns.
Gemsbok generally live in herds of up to 40 individuals, often in association with other species of antelope or with zebras. The males are often solitary animals, however. Active from dawn through nightfall, it feeds on grass and leaves, and can survive long periods without drinking any water. The horns are effective weapons. When fighting, the head is lowered between the forelegs in order to impale the enemy.
Introduction to North America
In 1969 the New Mexico State Department of Game and Fish decided to introduce Gemsbok to the Tularosa Basin in the United States. The introduction was a compromise between those who wanted to preserve nature and those who wanted to use it for profit and promotion. 93 were released from 1969 to 1977. The current population is estimated to be 3,000. The reason the Gemsbok thrived is because their natural predators, including the Lion, are not present.
They are also to be found in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, which is located between the borders of Namibia and Botswana. The park covers an area of a little less than 10,000 square kilometers. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the adjacent Gemsbok National Park of Botswana together occupy as much as 36,000 square kilometers. Since there is no barrier separating the two parks, the animals move freely from park to park.