Oryx Hunting

The gemsbok is a member of the oryx antelope family and is a spectacular trophy to hunt. Pay particular attention to the gender differences as it is fairly easy to get it wrong.

The gemsbok has exceptionally long, almost straight horns which are heavily grooved and a dark face-mask.

Oryx Trophy Minimums

Having been brought back from extinction in the wild, the wild populations of Arabian oryx, Oryx leucoryx, and scimitar-horned oryx, Oryx dammah, are strictly protected. However these captive-bred oryx may be hunted on game ranches in North America and South Africa. Consequently, Rowland Ward has separate categories for these introduced oryx subspecies. SCI has categorized the scimitar-horned oryx and Arabian oryx into either 'North America Introduced' and 'African Introduced'.

There is another oryx in both the SCI and Rowland record books - the Angolan gemsbok, Oryx gazella blainei. There is some dispute as to whether this is a separate subspecies or just a regular gemsbok in the south-west corner of Angola. Whatever the answer, this gemsbok is probably locally extinct in Angola and the SCI & RW records are just for historic interest.

SCI uses the term Kalahari gemsbok or giant gemsbok in their record book, for the regular gemsbok of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The Kalahari gemsbok of Namibia has it's own SCI record book category.

The two East African oryx - the Beisa of Ethiopia and the fringe-eared from Tanzania were previously considered a subspecies of the gemsbok Oryx gazella but now are considered a distinct subspecies and have undergone a bit of reclassification. They are now Oryx beisa beisa and Oryx beisa callotis respectively. You will find both scientific names in use.

Oryx gazella gazella (Gemsbok/Gemsbuck, Southern Oryx)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
40" 491/2" 7 81" 1115/8" 1
Oryx gazella gazella (Kalahari Gemsbok, Namibia only)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
N/A N/A N/A 80" 1105/8" 1
Oryx gazella callotis/Oryx beisa callotis (Fringe-eared Oryx)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
307/8" 433/8" 7 60" 875/8" 1
Oryx gazella beisa/Oryx beisa beisa (Beisa Oryx)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
307/8" 43" 7 72" 927/8" 1
Introduced Oryx leucoryx (Arabian Oryx)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
N/A 29" 7 55" 71" 1
Introduced Oryx dammah (Scimitar-Horned Oryx)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
38" 431/2" 7 80" 104" 1

Where To Hunt An Oryx

All the oryx subspecies, including the Arabian and scimitar-horned oryx, are available to hunt on exotic game ranches in North America and South Africa.

  • You can hunt a gemsbok in on private game ranches in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • The beisa oryx can be hunted in the lowlands of Ethiopia.
  • The fringe-eared oryx maybe hunted on a 21 day licence in Tanzania.

Oryx Hunting Prices

  • In Botswana, the trophy fee for a gemsbok is between US$575 and US$1400.
  • In South Africa, the trophy fee for a gembok ranges from US$900 to US$1500. Some outfitters offer gemsbok cows for the lower price of about US$850. In South Africa a 40" is the magic number for gemsbok horns with some outfitters having various trophy fees according to horn length. A gemsbok with horns over 40" may have a trophy fee of more than US$2500.
    If you are after an Arabian oryx in South Africa, trophy fees start at around US$8500, rising to US$14200. A scimitar-horned oryx trophy fee is between US$2400 and US$4100.
    If you are really into collecting exotic oryx, you can go for a golden oryx in South Africa. The jury is still out on whether a golden oryx is a new subspecies, a new species or just a colour variant but the price is POR. Read all about golden oryx in African Outfitter magazine. There are odd painted oryx available too at POR...of course.
  • In Namibia, which is the true home of the Kalahari gemsbok, there are any number of gemsbok hunting packages available and the cheapest gemsbok prices. A male gemsbok trophy fee is generally between US$700 and US$850. Despite possibly having longer horns, a female gemsbok trophy fee is about US$500. With outfitters that pitch their trophy fees according to horn length, you could pay over US$1400 for a 40" plus gemsbok. A non-trophy or management gemsbok can be had for US$220.
    A golden oryx can be hunted in Namibia, for example, on a 7 day package, including trophy fee, for about US$30000, otherwise the trophy fee is definitely POR. By the way, the golden oryx is sometimes known as the 'Burchell golden oryx'. This is because the original Namibian breeder is named Burchell and a descendant of William John Burchell, the explorer and naturalist.
  • In Zimbabwe, the gemsbok range in the north-west corner of Zimbabwe but have also been introduced on game ranches. The trophy fee for a gemsbok is US$7000.
  • In Ethiopia, the beisa oryx trophy fee is between US$2000 and US$4000.
  • In Tanzania, the fringe-eared oryx can be hunted as one of the special northern species in Masailand. The Government trophy fee is US$2800 and with additional Community Development/anti-poaching fees, the total trophy fee will between US$3220 and US$4000.

Fringe-Eared Oryx Hunting, Tanzania

Oryx Hunting Methods

  • Gemsbok and other oryx in their natural habitat are tough desert animals, incredibly well adapted to extremely high temperatures. If you are hunting an oryx in the Kalahari or other very arid areas, there may be little cover and shooting distances may be longer. However as gemsbok have been introduced on so many bushveldt game farms, your hunting methods will be the same as any plains game - spotting, walking and stalking.
  • Early mornings and evenings are the best times to hunt as they tend to retreat and lie down in shade during the heat of the day. As they are well camouflaged in their surroundings, they can be hard to see until you inadvertantly get too close and they bolt away.

A Good Oryx Trophy

  • Horn length, thick bases and symmetry will all go to make a good trophy.
  • The females often outdo the males in horn length but the horns are generally thinner and spindly along the whole length. You will have to decide whether to take a female or not for the sake of horn length.
  • It can be quite hard to judge an oryx/gemsbok's horns and then keep track of the animal as it mills about in the herd.
  • Of course the older the animal, the thicker but shorter the horns.
  • Look at the rings on the horn which start close to the head - if they are well spaced apart and the horns look long, this is likely a bull in his prime. The ringed section usually measures 18", so the length of the smooth section above should give you a total horn estimate.
  • The rings bunch up closer and closer as the animal ages, eventually forming a solid mass in very old animals.
  • To estimate the length, you can use the face length of 15" as a gauge. Watch the animal from the side with the head down grazing or reaching back to scratch it's rump and estimate the horns based on the face length. If the horn tip touches beyond the black section on the rump it should score well.
  • Watch out if you are trying to assess a single animal. It is notoriously difficult to tell if an animal is a youngster unless there are other gemsbok around with which to compare it. Standing alone, a young gemsbok appears as an exact replica of a mature gemsbok.

Oryx Hunting Shot Placement

Oryx Vital Statistics

Oryx Bull Vital Statistics
  Gemsbok Beisa Oryx Fringe-Eared Oryx
Shoulder Height 46-48"

Oryx Habitat and Requirements

  • The oryx prefer dry scrubland, semi-desert shrub-vegetation, semi-arid open savannah as found in the Kalahari and arid grassland. Woodlands are used only for refuge.
  • They are not dependent on surface drinking water.

Oryx Social Structure

  • Oryx are primarily herd antelope forming family groups sometimes accompanied by a bull, batchelor herds of bulls of all ages and larger mixed herds.
  • Solitary territorial bulls may be found.
  • Oryx herds are nomadic covering large distances.

Oryx Gestation Period

  • After a gestation period of around 8 months, one offspring is born.

Oryx Gender Identification

  • Notoriously difficult to tell the sexes apart unless the udder or scrotum is visible.
  • Males are a little larger and more heavily built.
  • The male horns are thicker but often shorter and blunter.

Oryx Pictures

Click image to enlarge
Gemsbok Gemsbok
Beisa Oryx Beisa Oryx
Fringe-Eared Oryx Fringe-Eared Oryx
Scimitar-Horned Oryx Introduced Scimitar-Horned Oryx
Arabian Oryx Introduced Arabian Oryx

Oryx Trophy Permits (2015)

Oryx Trophy Permits
Beisa OryxN/AN/AN/AN/A
Fringe-Eared OryxN/AN/AN/AN/A
Introduced Arabian OryxCITES ICITES I Import PermitsAnnex A/CITES I Import PermitsNo Import
Introduced Scimitar-Horned OryxCITES ICITES I Export & Import PermitsAnnex A CITES Import PermitNo Import

Oryx Trophy Taxidermy

The gemsbok and other oryx always make spectacular trophy displays not only because of their horns but they magnificent skin colouration. If you have no room for a full mount, an oryx shoulder or pedestal mount display the striking facial markings. Don't forget to tell your taxidermist the direction you want the head to turn and whether you want the horns blackened or left natural.

If you use the skin as a rug, place it in a low traffic area as the oryx has hollow hair which may easily break if routinely walked on.

Click images to enlarge
Gemsbok Full Mount Gemsbok Pedestal Mount Gemsbok Shoulder Mount Gemsbok Skull Mount Gemsbok Rug Mount
Taxidermy photos courtesy of Life-Form Taxidermy

What About The Name?

  • The name 'gemsbok' comes from Dutch for 'chamois buck'.
  • The name 'oryx' comes from the Greek word 'orux' meaning 'stonemason's pickaxe' because of the pointed horns.
  • The word 'beisa' was the local amharic name for this antelope.
  • The 'callotis' of the fringe-eared oryx means 'beautiful ear'.
  • The 'dammah' of the scimitar-horned oryx is the Arabic for 'sheep'.
  • The 'leucoryx' of the Arabian oryx means 'white'.

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