Both males and females have spiral horns: those of the males being twice the size those of the females. They are mainly grey-brown in colour, with a black stripe down the centre of their back and up to 15 vertical creamy white coloured stripes along the body. Their proportions are more similar to those of a cow than an antelope. As with cattle, the females gather together to defend their young and repel predators, such as lions.
Just like camels, they allow their body temperature to increase up to approximately 7ºC to avoid losing water when they sweat and thereby survive droughts. In general, the herds consist mainly of females with babies and juveniles; the older males can be solitary. They are relatively docile and in Africa are bred for their meat, milk and skin.