The gemsbuck also known as the oryx is a truly magnificent animal and to many, it is by far the most beautiful of the large plains game which are found in Africa. There are five subspecies of oryx which can be taken in Africa. Not all are referred to as Gemsbuck but rather the more scientific term Oryx. The subspecies available to hunt in Africa are namely: The Common or Southern Gemsbuck, Fringe eared Oryx, Beisa Oryx, Arabian Oryx, and Scimitar horned oryx.
The Southern Gemsbuck is found in open savannah areas right throughout South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and parts of Namibia. These animals are the most common of the oryx specie. Bull Southern gemsbuck weighs in the region of 500 pounds while cows closer to 450 pounds. These animals are independent of water but will drink when water is available. The Southern gemsbuck is indigenous to areas where it is hot and dry and can go days without drinking. Safari Club International has a separate record category for the “Giant Gemsbuck”. The Southern gemsbuck which occurs in the Kalahari region of Namibia was to be significantly larger in body size than other populations thus SCI has given them their own category.
Fringe eared Oryx is a rare trophy and can be taken on a 21-day license in Tanzania. This animal is very similar to that of the southern oryx, although as its name suggests grows fringes of hair on the tip of its ears.
The Beisa Oryx can be hunted in the low lying areas of the Ethiopian highlands The horns of the fringe-eared and Beisa Oryx do not grow as long as the Southern or Common sub species.
The Arabian Oryx which is indigenous to Saudi Arabia and Oman was extinct in the wild as of 1972. Few specimens which remained in a zoo in the area were conserved and bred with. These animals were reintroduced to game ranches in South Africa and North America, and are now breeding in various healthy populations.
The Scimitar horned oryx went extinct in the wild in the year 2000. This subspecies was indigenous to areas in north Africa. The Scimitar horned oryx has been bred to good numbers once again from populations that were in captivity. Both The Arabian Oryx and the scimitar Horned oryx can now be hunted on exotic game ranches throughout South Africa. The record books have also now given each of these animals their own category and are noted as introduced.
Both Female and Male oryx carry horns and identifying a sex can be challenging. Bull Oryx are slightly larger in body size than the cows, this is however not a very efficient way of identifying the animal’s sex due to herds being made up of animals of various ages. The horns of a bull oryx also grow thicker bases and are in general thicker than the horns on a female, however, it is the females in this specie which grow the longest horns!
Oryx has a humped shoulder and their heart also lies slightly lower down than in other plains game species. When standing broadside place the shot just below the center of the shoulder, this will yield good results. Make a note not to shoot the “hump” or high on the shoulder as these tough animals can keep a hunter tracking for hours on end when wounded. Due to the open terrain in which these animals are found, shot opportunities can be anywhere from 100 yards to 400 yards. It is a good idea to practice a few long-range shots with your hunting rifle before going after one if the oryx species!
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