The white oryx

White oryx

The white oryx, an African antelope species, has thrived in the Sahara for thousands of years thanks to adaptations to its desert environment. This animal can withstand extreme temperatures and water scarcity, often likened to a bull due to its temperament and the use of its powerful horns for defense against predators. Sadly, the wild population of white oryxes is nearly extinct. In an effort to prevent this, Moroccan authorities are attempting to reintroduce the species into the Souss-Massa National Park, located south of Agadir.

In the 12th century, Abû Hamid al-Gharnatî described an animal known in Africa south of the Sahara as a “lamt”. This creature resembles a large bull with horns as long as its body, reaching over its back and functioning as spears. When the animal uses these horns against another creature, it immediately kills its prey. The hide of the animal was used to craft shields called daraq al-lamtiyya (adargue lamtí), so light and soft that neither arrows nor swords could penetrate them. This shield is three cubits wide and as white as paper, making it one of the most beautiful shields. Even into the 20th century, Tuareg warriors utilized this type of shield for protection of both rider and horse.