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Fringe-eared Oryx

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The Fringe-eared Oryx, also known as Burton's fringe-eared oryx or Beisa is a subspecies of East African Oryx.

In 1908, Theodore Roosevelt led a big game hunting expedition to Kirinyaga, British East Africa. As part of the safari, Roosevelt hoped to take specimens of the oryx back to American museums so as to teach the Americans about this rare type of antelope.

However, the oryx had mysteriously disappeared from their usual grazing grounds, and the chance of hunting them looked very dim. Fascinated by an illustration of the creature, Indiana Jones, whose family took part in the expedition, set out to find the new habitat of the oryx.

Sketch & Painting

Indiana Jones' sketch and Maasai painting of the oryx.

Jones befriended a local Maasai boy, called Meto, and together they managed to find the new habitat of the oryx, using knowledge from the Liabon. Understanding the food network of the savanna, Jones deduced that the oryx could only be found where its primary food, a root-melon would be growing. However, the root-melon range had shrunk after a fire had wiped out the snakes that normally would have kept the mole rat population in check. Without the snakes, mole rats had eaten much of the root-melons, cutting off the oryx's food supply. Meto and Jones found an area that still had root melons before Jones returned to camp. Jones informed Roosevelt of the whereabouts of the herd of oryx but Jones had to persuade Roosevelt and his fellow hunters to only shoot one oryx, using the rarity of the animal as his main argument.

The oryx figured in Maasai culture, which Jones observed when Meto showed him some traditional rock paintings of the animal.


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