BY BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
In another win for the animal kingdom an antelope that was once extinct in the wild is grazing in the fields of the Sahara once more. It has been 20 years since the Scimitar-horned oryx roamed in the Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve in Chad.
Up until the early 1980s when civil unrest lead to over hunting of the species, herds of oryx were a common sight. Yet by 2000 it was declared that the antelope was no longer living in the wild. In 220 zoos across the world the captive animals that remained became a part of a global breeding program to ensure that the species did not leave the face of the earth completely.
In the summer of 2016 the region gained back its first herd of wild oryx again. Twenty-one healthy adult oryx were flown from Abu Dhabi and released into the reserve. They were fitted with GPS satellite collars so they could be monitored daily. The heard has stuck together as they branched away from their drop off spot to explore the vast space. In September 2016 the first calf of the species to be born in the wild in 30 years was enjoying its new free world.
A second group of the animal had been released back into the 78,000 km squared reserve in January 2017. They oryx aren’t the only species to be reconnected to their ancestral home that month. In Alberta, Canada buffalo were released back into the national park after 100 years of absence.
The oryx reintroduction into the wild is a combination of many global resources working to keep endangered animals safe and rebuild areas that have seen species depletion.
Zoological Society London’s Tim Wacher is pleased with how the species are adapting to their native land after years in captivity. “We have high hopes that one day in the not too distant future, herds of scimitar-horned oryx will once again be a common sight across the huge reserve and hopefully beyond,” he said.