Thursday, 30 May 2013

Chad president gives backing to Oryx reintroduction

Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) launch project to return oryx to Chad
May 2013. As SCF's logo, the scimitar horned oryx represents the threats that face desert wildlife but also the hope that one day this magnificent animal will once again roam free on African soil. Once abundant on the vast, dry, sub-Saharan grasslands, the oryx fell prey to a lethal combination of overhunting, drought and habitat loss. 

Survived in captivity
Thankfully, significant numbers of oryx exist in collections across the world and efforts to restore the species to the wild are underway in several countries. Up until the late 1970s, the oryx prospered in Chad's Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve, one of the world's largest protected areas. 

Regrettably, the oryx became extinct during the 1980s largely as a result of civil war in that country. Recent surveys, however, carried out by SCF and Chad's National Parks and Wildlife Service have underlined the reserve's enormous potential to host a successful oryx reintroduction project. There is abundant habitat and space to cater for the oryx's needs and initial contacts with the local authorities and the reserve's inhabitants have been very encouraging.

In May this year, SCF organized a major stakeholder workshop in the Chadian capital of N'Djaména. Facilitated by IUCN's Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, the workshop and fieldtrip that preceded it brought together around 50 people from diverse interest groups, including local politicians and representatives from the reserve's herders associations. The results were extremely positive, paving the way for detailed project development to take place.

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