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Arabian oryx

Oryx leucoryx (Pallas, 1777)

African Mammal - Arabian oryx


Scene:  Rub el Khali, southern Saudi Arabia

Also present:  sand cat—Felis margarita

Sponsor:  Maurice A. Machris and the Tom and Valley Knudsen Foundation

Background artist:  Robert Russell Reid


Arabian Oryx Range Map

Range:  Formerly present throughout the Sahel. Hunted to extinction in the wild but re-introduced into Tunisia, Oman, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Habitat:  Arid regions.

Status:  Endangered.

Diet:  Grasses, buds, and leaves.

        The legend of the unicorn may stem in part from the Arabian oryx which, when seen in profile, often appears to have only a single horn . The bible uses the Hebrew word re’em for Arabian oryx. In the King James’ version of the bible the word re’em is translated as ‘unicorn’.

        Herds of Arabian oryx number between two and fifteen animals and may range up to 3000 square kilometers annually.

        Although they are usually regarded as the same species, some authorities recognize the slightly darker coated North African variant as the scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah).

Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for Arabian oryx.


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