Sunday, July 4, 2021

Gemsbok - Organ Mountains, New Mexico

On Saturday, July 3rd, Judy and I had just completed a hike to Dripping Springs in the Organ Mountains east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. We'd seen four deer a little earlier and I looked over to a nearby ridge and thought I saw two bighorn sheep. I took a look at them through my 600 mm lens and was shocked to see African oryx (I've seen beisa oryx in Kenya and gemsbok, a type of oryx, in Namibia and can't tell them apart).  

We watched them awhile and eventually a third and then a fourth oryx joined the other two. As we watched them they moved up the ridge and eventually out of sight. 

The White Sands National Park website notes that 95 oryx from the Kalahari Desert of Botswana (which are gemsbok) were released in the White Sands Missile Range and surrounding area between 1969 and 1977 by the New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish to provide an exotic species for big game hunters to hunt. In 1996, in response, White Sands NP erected a 67 mile fence around the national park to prevent the gemsbok from entering as they deemed them an invasive species.

There are currently an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 gemsbok in New Mexico and 1,687 were harvested by hunters during the 2019 to 2020 hunting season. They have spread from the original transplant area and are now occasionally seen in the Organ Mountains where we were.  


  1. Very cool, almost looks like you are in Africa.

  2. I still can't believe you saw them WAY over on the ridge. Then it was such a shock to realize they were African transplants! Another great, mind-blowing experience for the Cannon history books.