Scimitar-Horned Oryx Reintroduction Programme
"Since 2000 the Scimitar-horned Oryx has been classified as "Extinct in the Wild" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. There have been no sightings for more than 25 years due to un-regulated hunting, loss of habitat and lack of resources for conservation. Leading the programme which endeavours to reinstate a viable population of this once extinct-in-the-wild majestic creature in its home range of Chad is dreams come true. This initial release will provide us with invaluable data to develop a self-sustaining wild population".
H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General, Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi
The Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Programme in Chad is a joint initiative of the Government of Chad and the Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi. Under the overall leadership and management of the Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi, on-the-ground implementation of the project is carried out by the Sahara Conservation Fund.
Further technical support for wildlife monitoring, oryx genetics and animal husbandry is being provided by the Zoological Society of London, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Marwell Wildlife, and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.
One of the world's most ambitious conservation programmes
The Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Programme is the fruit of a meticulous process of research, planning and consultation. Under the leadership of EAD and SCF, a major stakeholder meeting was held in Chad in 2012, followed by programme and budget planning at EAD in Abu Dhabi later the same year.
After feasibility studies were carried out by EAD, SCF and ZSL in 2013, it was decided to focus the project on Chad’s Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve, a vast protected area set up in the 1960s specifically for the conservation of oryx and other desert species. This 77,360 km² protected area is one of the largest in the world and harbours some of the last remaining viable populations of dama and dorcas gazelles.
With the signing of project agreements between EAD and the Government of Chad, and EAD and SCF in 2014, work began on building a basecamp and pre-release pens in the reserve, and the selection of oryx from the nascent World Herd in Abu Dhabi for transport to Chad.
In March 2016, 25 oryx were flown to Chad and transferred to the pre-release pens for acclimatization. In August that year, they were released into the reserve; the first scimitar-horned oryx to be reintroduced since they were declared Extinct-in-the-Wild by IUCN in 2000.
Today, following two further shipments of oryx from Abu Dhabi, there are 90 animals in the wild, including 18 calves born in Chad. Over the coming years, the goal is to build up a viable, free-ranging and self-sustaining population of at least 500 animals. And in the longer term, have the oryx removed from the Extinct-in-the-Wild category and reassigned to a lower level of threat.
Scimitar-horned Oryx back in the wild © Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi
This project would never have happened without the vision and leadership, the resources, the animals and skills of EAD and its leaders. The initiative is not only one of the most ambitious reintroductions ever undertaken but a glowing example of what can be done to save Africa’s imperilled wildlife if we all pull together.
To learn more about the project, the following sources are available:
Read the EAD press releases:
- The Scimitar-horned Oryx reintroduction spreads hope at the IUCN Congress - 9/10/2016
- Satellite tracking critical to ensure successful reintroduction of extinct in the wild antelope - 8/30/2016
- 25 Oryx back in their natural habitat in CHAD - 3/21/2016
- First scimitar-horned oryx born on native soil in CHAD in decades - 11/16/2014
Read the articles from Sandscript, the biannual publication of SCF, and see the photo album of the project:
- Issue 13: News from the frontline / Ouadi Rime Ouadi Achim
- Issue 14: United in conservation
- Issue 20: Editorial / It's a boy!
- Issue 21: Oryx baby boom / Tracking oryx from space
Get updated through social networks:
Watch videos about the project:
- Overview of the Oryx Project in Chad (in French)
Find out about the Scimitar-horned Oryx unique characteristics in its species profile here.