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SCIMITAR HORNED ORYX

The Scimitar Horned Oryx is a species of oryx which formerly inhabited the whole of North Africa. Scimitar Oryx were hunted for their horns, almost to extinction. Where once they occupied the whole Sahara, they are now considered to be extinct in the wild, with no confirmed sightings in the wild for over 15 years. A global captive breeding program was initiated in the 1960s. In 1996, there were at least 1,250 captive animals held in zoos and parks around the world with a further 2,145 on ranches in Texas. Scimitar Oryx natively inhabit steppe and desert where they eat leaves, grass and fruit. They form herds of mixed sex containing up to seventy animals. Formerly they would gather in groups of several thousand for migration. They can survive without water for many weeks, because their kidneys prevent loss of water from urination and they can modify their body temperature to avoid perspiration. It has been suggested that the myth of the one-horned unicorn may originate from sightings of injured scimitar oryxes. From certain angles, the oryx may be mistaken for having one horn instead of two and given that its horns are made from hollow bone which cannot be regrown, if an oryx were to lose one of its horns, it would, for the rest of its life, have only one horn.