The East African oryxes have traditionally been treated as a single species, Oryx beisa (and often even considered conspecific with the Gemsbok, O. gazella, of southwest Africa). According to Groves (2011), however, although they are very similar in appearance they are best treated as three distinct species: Beisa Oryx (O. beisa), found in northern and central Somalia and the Ogaden region of Ethiopia north to Berbera, west to Eitrea, and south into the Awash Valley; Oryx (O. gallarum), of northern Kenya and northeastern Uganda extending into Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia; and Fringe-eared Oryx (O. callotis), found in southeastern Kenya and northeastern Tanzania.
The Fringe-eared Oryx is a large antelope with a thick neck, long face, long straight horns. It is found in semi-arid grasslands and brushlands and avoid tall grass; its habitat is less arid than that of other oryxes. Fringe-eared Oryxes require only 15-20% of the water needed by donestic cattle and can go up to a month without drinking if succulent grases are available. Their water turnover rate are lower than those of camels and Elands.They are adapted to high temperatures and can pant and use evaporative cooling to minimize heat gain, but this can increase water loss. To minimize their need for water, these animals prosuce concentrated urine and dry feces, seek out shade during the hottest part of the day, and can allow their body temperature to climb from a normal ~35.7 to 45 C. Fringe-eared Oryxes are nomadic, apparently wandering more than the Gemsbok. Their movements are driven by rainfall and available green vegetation.
In 2008, the global population of Fringe-eared Oryxes was around 17,000, around 60% of them in protected areas, which may eventually be the only places they persist.
(Kingdon 1997; Groves 2011)
- Groves, C.P. 2011. Genus Oryx. Pp. 688-692 in: Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego.
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