Gemsbok are highland antelopes. They live in dry woodlands and more open grassland habitats. Many of the gemsbok's closest relatives are desert animals. High-altitude habitats are also often dry, and this species is also able to survive in areas where food is scarce for long periods. When food is plentiful, the gemsbok consume almost nothing but grass. As this food source reduces during the dry season, they become browsers and select leaves and other food items from bushes and trees. At the driest times, the antelopes use their hooves to dig out roots and other underground storage organs. They have been known to dig up melons and cucumbers, which are full of water and supply the gemsbok with the drink they need before the rains return.
Gemsbok are large antelopes with long, slightly curved horns. Females have horns as well as the males, but they tend to be slightly shorter and more slender. Gemsbok living in the northern part of the range are darker than those living in the south.
Gemsbok are polygynous, which means that successful males will mate with several females. Small herds tend to contain just one dominant adult male, while in larger herds there are enough females for a few bulls to tolerate each other. There is no breeding season, and males mate with females soon after they give birth.
Distribution: Southern and East Africa. Most common in Zambia and Tanzania.
Habitat: Highland areas of savannah and grassland.
Food: Grasses, roots, leaves and fruits.
Size: 1.95 m (76.75 in); 210 kg (463 lb).
Maturity: 2 years.
Breeding: Single calf born every 9 months. Newborn calves hidden in thicket.
Life span: 18 years.
Status: Lower risk.