There are three species of oryx. The smallest, the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx), is making a recovery from extinction in the wild. Thanks to restocking from captive herds, there are again wild Arabian oryxes.
The scimitar oryx (Oryx dammah) is considered critically endangered by over-hunting, habitat loss, and competition with domestic livestock for grazing that is limited by a series of severe droughts.
The largest oryx, the gemsbock (Oryx gazella) is considered conservation-dependent, which means that remnant populations must continue to be protected, but it was still common in parts of Africa in 2000.
Oryxes are gregarious and live in herds of up to 100 animals, but more commonly 10 to 20 animals. They are desert and arid-land specialists and can survive without fresh water as long as they can find succulent vegetation to eat. They are also very capable of creating waterholes by digging pits into dry streambeds.
Both male and female adults possess permanent, narrow, straight horns. Those of the female are slightly longer and slimmer than those of the male. These horns are quite lethal; oryxes have been known to kill lions with them.