ABU DHABI, 20th May, 2022 (WAM) — The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) continues to progress with the world’s largest mammal reintroduction programme, as it has successfully translocated 20 Scimitar-Horned Oryx (SHO) and 25 Addax to Chad’s Ouadi Rime-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve during last March.
Due to the programme’s efforts, the numbers of Scimitar-Horned Oryx in the wild reached 460, with 15 calves born so far this year, as well as 96 wild Addax, with five calves born to the herd, also this year.
Furthermore, for the first time ever, EAD has successfully translocated five Dama Gazelle on 14th March, 2022, which have joined the herd of other captured wild Dama Gazelle in the Agency programme.
As part of the monitoring programme for the animals, EAD successfully darted seven wild animals – six SHO and one Addax – and fitted them with satellite tracking collars, enabling close monitoring to witness survival and reproduction.
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD, said, “This pioneering project was inspired by the insightful vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who noticed that SHO numbers were declining rapidly and wished to see them flourish once again. Today we are seeing continued success thanks to the support of our wise leadership through the regular translocation of both breeds to their natural habitat in Chad. Both herds of animals are now thriving very well in their natural habitats.”
“We are currently very close to achieving our goal of having a herd of 500 SHO in Chad and, due to the success of this project, we are aiming to go beyond this figure and ensure that the numbers in the wild increase even further. Alongside the SHO herd, we are working closely with the government of Chad to also reintroduce Addax and Dama Gazelles, and in time we will witness increased numbers of these species, hopefully paving the way for their removal them from the extinction danger list,” she added.
The SHO reintroduction programmes strives to create a self-sustaining herd of over 500 heads in the 77,950 square kilometres Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Wildlife Reserve, decades after the species was declared ‘extinct in the wild’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2000.
Initiated in 2014, with the first shipment of animals released back into their natural habitats in 2016, the herds have been closely monitored to ensure they are adapting well to their wild environment.
The second phase of the reintroduction programme included adding the critically endangered Addax, and in November 2019, the translocation project was launched with the first pilot batch of 15 animals, followed by the second group of 25 Addax in March 2020.
The reintroduction programme of both species involves close collaboration with a range of international partners. These include the Ministry of Environment in the Government of Chad; the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF); the Zoological Society of London (ZSL); the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI); Marwell Wildlifel; Royal Zoological Society of Scotland; Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute; Fossil Rim Wildlife Centre; and the European Union.