ABU DHABI 21 December 2021 (WAM), — The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), has just completed a successful mission in which 25 Scimitarhorned Oryxs (SHO) were transferred to Chad. These two species share overlapping home ranges and will soon be released into nature. The Agency plans to transfer 25 more SHO to Chad in February 2022.
The EAD team also successfully darted wild SHO, and fitted them satellite tracking collars to enable close monitoring, including reproduction, survival, and reproduction. One herd was 87 animals. This year, more than 100 calves will be born in wild.
This latest release comes after the success of the reintroduction programs that aims at creating a self-sustaining herd of more than 500 SHO in the Ouadi RimOuadi Achim Wildlife Reserve. This is decades after the species was declared extinct by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 2000.
The first shipment of animals was released into the wild in 2016. In 2014, the herds were launched. Since then, the herds have been seen moving efficiently to and fro the pre-release pens.
A herd of 75 SHOs arrived at the Ouadi Rim Ouadi Achim Wildlife Reserve, Chad, as part of the programme. This was in collaboration with the Chad Ministry of Environment and Fisheries and The Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF).
The 2018 arrival of 40 SHO calves in the Sahelian plains, Chad, boosted the total herd to 180 animals. Due to the births of over 60 calves this year, there are now approximately 400 Scimitarhorned oryx left in the wild.
The second phase of the Addax reintroduction began in 2019, with the translocations of 15 Addax, and 25 Addax, in Nov 2019. This was before Covid-19 travel restrictions. Currently, 65 Addax live in the wild and 15 Addax calves have been born this year.
EADs Secretary-General, HE Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, stated that “We will always continue to the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed (the pioneer of the SHO reintroduction programme, which was the first of its kind anywhere on the planet) We are eager to be leaders and guides for other entities in the field of conservation and captive breeding. It is sad to see species disappearing and we at EAD are determined to reverse this trend.
She continued: “Next Month, we will be releasing both Addax in Chad and SHOs in Chad in collaboration. We are on track to establish 500 SHO in the wild. We anticipate the birth of more calves next year and will continue our efforts to increase herd sizes and stop the rapid decline in these species.
According to data, the last SHO disappeared out of Chad in the 1980s. The species was officially declared “Extinct In the Wild” worldwide by IUCN 2000. The only remaining animals remain in ex-situ and in captivity in breeding programmes at zoos around the world.
This project is a testament to the vision of Sheikh Zayed, who first noticed the rapid decline in SHO numbers during the 1960s. He ordered the creation of a conservation program through a captive breeding program piloted in the UAE. They were kept on Sir Bani Yas Island where their numbers grew significantly over the years to over 1,000.
The success of the Scimitarhorned Oryx, and Addax in Chad is due to the support of many prominent global partners. These partners have passed their invaluable expertise to EAD. These partners include: The Ministry of Environment in Chad; the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF); the Zoological Society of London ZSL; the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute [SCBI], Marwell Wildlife; Royal Zoological Society of Scotland; Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute; Fossil RIM Wildlife Center and EAD.