SCIMITAR ORYX – Extinction Realities by Akintayo Ololade

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Oryx dammah (Cretzschmar 1826)

IUCN STATUS: Extinct in the wild.

POPULATION: Reported to have being extinct in the wild in the 80s (Gordon and Gill, 1993)) but listed extinct in the wild by IUCN in year 2000.

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION: used to inhabit the Sahara desert, Niger, Chad, Sudan according to report given by (Gordon) and a seasonal migrant to Northeastern Nigeria with an unconfirmed report of sighting in Tunisia according to IUCN (2008) ­  

Picture Source: Wikipedia 


Order:    Artiodactyla

Sub-order: Ruminantia

Family: Bovidae

Sub-Family: Hippotraginae

Genius: Oryx

Species: Oryx dammah 


The name “Orxy” was introduced for the genus of Antelope by De Blainville in 1816 (Gilbert, 2017), the common name of the animal was derived from is curve backward horn in form of an arc or Scimitar (Gilbert and Woodfine, 2004). The animal has an average life span of 27 years and a gestation period of 242-300 days and gave birth to a single calf mostly (Gilbert, 2016), making it unfavorable for population exponential growth.  

Qatar Airways National symbol


They are capable of migrating several kilometers (about 1,300) per year; they moved southward between the month of March to May (due to availability of rain) and they moved back to the North between the months of June to July (Gilbert and Woodfine, 2004). They are more active during the Dawn and Dusk of the day ( and has been reported to feed and migrate during this period, which could be a means to retain water and get adequate fluid from plants, although she is capable of surviving for several months without water according to and Gilbert (2017). She has preference feeding on the following plants: Colocynth, Indigofera viscosa, and bitter lemon Gilbert (2017) due to their high moisture content. Oryx are capable of interbreeding with other antelope spp like Addax and Oryx hybrid are usually fertile (Book of Antelopes by R.H. Portel). 


 THREATThis includes, climatic changes, Degradation of Habitat and over hunting (


The animal is known to have a very good Hide that could support production of leathers, shoes, bags etc. and their reported to have a good quality meat; major reason for it being hunted.

There are report that, Unicorn myth came from the animal, as the Horns could be coiled together to from a single central horn in Asia.

However, one of the major benefit of Oryx is Ecotourism


Gilbert, T. (2017). International Studbook for the Scimitar-horned oryx Oryx dammah, Marwell Wildlife, Winchester.12th Edition

Gordon, I.J. and Paul, G. (1993). Reintroduction of Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah) TO Bou-Hedma National Park, Tunisia

Gilbert, T. and Woodfine, T. (2004).The biology, husbandry and conservation of Scimitar-horned (Oryx dammah), Marwell Preservation Trust. ISBN: 0 9521397 23