While travelling in Texas between Austin and San Antonio a few years back, I decided to take back roads to see what there was in the area. This area of Texas is somewhat dry with rolling hills and rough terrain. Along the way on Highway 281 there was a housing development which, from the outside, looked somewhat interesting.
So I drove past the gates, partly up a hill, and was confronted with a small herd of about 10 scimitar-horned oryx. They are fairly large animals like antelope, with very long beautifully curved horns.
I would never have expected to see them in Texas since they are indigenous to North Africa in the arid and sub-desert areas along the Sahara. It seems they are now extinct in the wild but there are some locations around the world, mostly in Africa, Senegal, Morocco, Niger and others, that keep oryx groups using differing degrees of protection and maintenance. Some have plans for re-introduction to the wild.
I’ve also read that there are many ranches in, of all places, Texas, that are breeding them. The Westlake Nature Preserve, apparently, is one of them and this is where I found them.
When you consider that these animals were fairly widespread over many countries around the Sahara, it is sad to think that they are down to a few thousand around the world. They have been overhunted and have lost a good part of their natural environment to our encroachment, which we seem to be doing with amazing regularity to many animals and their habitats around the world.
In any event, it was good to see these animals first-hand and take a few pictures. They were roaming around the area in a few groups and seemed to be healthy and reproducing, as I saw a few younger ones as well.