Dama Gazelle Conservation
The dama gazelle (Nanger dama) is one of the three most threatened antelope species in the world. It is classified on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as critically endangered and is listed on Appendix I of CITES and CMS. Dama gazelles were once widely distributed across the whole Sahel zone, parts of the western Sahara and in lower valleys of the mountain massifs of the Sahara, but range and numbers have drastically declined.
Currently, half of the remaining population is located in atypical mountain habitats often in hyper-arid parts of its range, which are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
With the recent surveys carried out by SCF and its partners in 2017, we know that the remaining wild population numbers 200-300 animals at most, and is spread amongst four known sub-populations (Termit Massif, Aïr Mountains, Manga, and Ouadi Rimé – Ouadi Achim Game Reserve).
SCF and its partners have carried out many vehicle surveys based on standard transect techniques and analysis. Camera trapping are being used successfully in remote areas difficult to access like in the Termit massif and the Aïr mountains.
Camera trapping is based on long term deployment of a sampling grid using good quality cameras and provides standardized indices of mammal species richness, with of course particular interest in results for dama gazelle. At last, block counting of dama gazelle in the mountains using drone will be as well tested soon to provide on time monitoring and habitat mapping.
Awareness and support from the local communities
The situation of the dama gazelles is of high concern due to opportunistic poaching and a high level of disturbance caused by vehicles crossing its distribution area in both countries. To tackle this situation, SCF aims to get the support of the local community by sensitizing them during dedicated workshop and by recruiting community game guards to warrant the protection of the Dama gazelle population from disturbance. The role played by local leaders and community game guards to secure this kind of approach from the reserve’s traditional land-users has been a crucial achievement so far and we think it will continue if we can expand the project’s reach and provide additional technical and financial support to implement the appropriate actions.
SCF is also playing a major role in raising awareness with the governments of Chad and Niger and getting their full endorsement of the regional action plan drafted by SCF, ZSL, IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group, CMS, Noé, Niger and Chadian national agencies.