Arabian Oryx

Arabian Oryx – The Living Unicorn

Illustration of the Arabian Oryx by Ravenari


Rain speaker. Keeping your goals in sight. Sword symbolism. Encounters and battles. Air energy. Defending what matters to you. Grounded but looking towards the future. Reading the weather (literally or etherically). The living unicorn. Unicorn mythology and symbolism. Purity and grace. Always looking for answers.


A medium-sized antelope with a white colouration (it has sometimes been known as the white oryx), and the smallest member of the Oryx genus. It is also known as the dishon (Hebrew), as well as the maha, baqar al-wahsh, boosolah and wudhaihi in Arabic.

Arabian oryxes live in small herds (around 2-15 animals) of mixed sex in huge ranges (over 3,000 square kilometres/1,200 square miles). They live within desert and steppe environments, preferring gravel or hard sand surfaces, resting within the heat of the day and digging small depressions in the ground to access cooler temperatures. They are fast runners and possess great endurance. Living in such harsh conditions can drastically lessen their lifespan due to malnutrition and dehydration.

Arabian oryxes eat grasses, as well as herbs, tubers, roots and fruit. They can go weeks without water. They have an ability to detect rainfall and will move towards it. Large herds of around 100 have been reported. They tend to be peaceable with each other outside of the breeding season where males can fight and spar with their horns. Their only predator is the wolf, though they are also susceptible to snakebites. They can live for up to 20 years.

The Arabian oryx became extinct in the wild by the early 1970s, only to be saved by dedicated, successfully breeding and reintroduction programs. It was the first animal to go from being extinct in the wild, to vulnerable status. There are approximately 7,000 Arabian oryx in captivity, and around 1,000 in the wild at the time of this writing. The Arabian oryx is the national animal of Oman, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. It is an important part of the Qatar Airways and Al Maha Airways logo, and Orry the Arabian oryx was the 2006 Asian Games mascot. In the Middle East it is a significant, iconic animal.