What Is An Addax?
The addax is a single species of the antelope family which is closely related to the oryxes. Learn about this rare animal!
The addax is a single species of the antelope family that is closely related to the oryxes. Sometimes called the screw horn antelope, the addax differs from most antelope in the absence of facial glands and the large square teeth. The adult male addax stands some 40 inches at the shoulders and weighs approximately 250 pounds. The coat coloring varies with the seasons. During the winter the coats are grayish brown with white hindquarters. In the summer the addax coat becomes such a light sandy color that it is almost white. The head of an addax is white and very distinctly marked with brown and black patches that form an X over the nose. The animal has a tuft of long black hairs between its horns and a short mane on its neck. It has a short slender tail that is tipped with a tuft of hair. The horns curve out from the base and spiral over the back reaching nearly one yard in length. This has made the horns so prized by hunters that the addax is now very rare. Both sexes bear horns, with the females being somewhat thinner than the males.
Considered the most graceful of animals, the addax at one time extended across North Africa into Arabia and Palestine. Ancient Egyptians kept this animal in semi-domestication, putting its pictures in tombs dating back to 2500 BC. It appears that during this period the number of addax a man owned was an indicator of his wealth and position. In more recent times the addax could be found from Algeria to the Sudan. Today they are highly restricted and becoming increasingly rare with numbers estimated at around 5,000.
Another reason the addax is becoming extinct is due to the destruction of their habitats by the opening up of desert areas for commercial projects. Compared to other antelope the addax is a slow animal and often falls prey to man or dogs. This animal can survive in the very depths of the desert where conditions are so extreme that no other warm-blooded animal can survive. It can drink large quantities of water but can also survive without any water indefinitely by obtaining water from succulent vegetation or dew condensed on plants. The addax is a very wary animal. Once alarmed they will dash off at a frantic gallop. Sensitivity to disturbances is increased by the Addax's extreme sensory powers, which are well developed.
These animals typically move around in small groups of four to twenty animals and are usually led by an older male. They will normally stay in one area when vegetation is plentiful, otherwise moving long distances to find food. In the world of the addax, food is dependent on the weather. During the tropical summer rains they are found along the fringe and winters have them moving north as the Mediterranean trough system brings rain southward. Most addax can tell where the rains have fallen by scenting at a distance where the vegetation has turned green. Their diet consists mostly of aristida grasses, which are perennials. These plants are sensitive to even a small rain shower and will begin sprouting to remain green all winter. Another favorite of this animal is parnicum seeds, which are plucked by drawing the stem through the mouth to remove the seeds. The addax is a fastidious feeder, eating only certain parts of the plants. Little is known about the addax's breeding habits with the exception that one young is born at a time either in winter or early spring.