Addax nasomaculatus – an introduction


The Addax Antelope (Addax nasomaculatus) is a middle sized antelope perfectly adapted to life in harsh desert landscapes. It is native to the Sahara desert and for thousands of years they thrived in areas where few other species could survive. But habitat destruction caused by man and uncontrolled hunting with modern weapons has pushed the Addax population to the verge of extinction.

With perhaps no more than 200 individuals left in the wild the Addax is considered critically endangered. Extensive conservation programmes to protect the last few wild animals and coordinated breeding programmes of captive herds is now the species hope for the future.


Addax antelope with the typical face mask and screwed horn.
Addax antelope with the typical face mask and screwed horn.

One of the most noticeable physical characteristics of the Addax is the typical face ”mask”. A distinct white patch runs across the head below the eyes and also around the nose and mouth as can be seen in the picture below. The rest of the head is light brown apart from the upper part of the head around the horns which has thicker and darker hair. Also notice the tail in the picture, which is short and thin and seems to have little practical use for the Addax. Like most other antelopes, both sexes have horns. The horns can be over a meter long and are slightly spiraled.

The colour of the coat varies between individuals from white to grey/light brown and also varies with season, being lighter during the summer. The Addax is grouped among the ”horse antelopes” in the family tree and this is because of their horse-like built and the mane on the neck.


Addax antelopes are social animals and usually live in groups of 5 to 20 individuals. When the Addax was more common and widespread, herds of up to 200 animals were not uncommon at favourable feeding areas. Now, with very few animals left in the wild, big groups like this do no longer exist.The herd is usually led by one of the older females.

Addaxes give birth to one calf at any time of the year but more commonly in spring or autumn. The female will leave the heard to give birth and mother and calf will stay apart from the herd for a while often accompanied by the dominant male.