The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies Bicentenary

Rare antelope gains improved conservation status

Numbers of scimitar-horned oryx boosted by reintroduction scheme with guidance from international team of experts.

A species of antelope recently reintroduced to Central Africa has been declared no longer extinct in the wild.

Scimitar-horned oryx have been declared endangered, an improved official status from extinct in the wild, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The development follows the coordinated introduction in recent years of hundreds of the animals from carefully managed captive populations into Chad, in a scheme involving experts from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

Growing population

Researchers from the Dick Vet’s Conservation Science group worked with conservationists around the world to study the genetics of captive populations, in order to inform the reintroduction programme.

The population has thrived in the wild, with numbers of oryx living unmanaged in the region growing from about 300 formerly captive animals to about 500 today.

Scientists will continue to work alongside other experts to monitor the population in Chad, to understand how best to maintain population growth.

The team will seek to use their observations to inform conservation management, such as enabling access to appropriate dietary plants and creating spaces where the animals can thrive.

Future support

Continued efforts will be important in developing the population to further improve its status, researchers say, as the animals are a key species to support regional biodiversity.

The animals’ presence in the Sahel region on the fringe of the Sahara Desert will help to slow the growth of the desert region, they add.

The project is carried out in collaboration with the Government of Chad, Sahara Conservation, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and other international partners.

We welcome the reclassification of the scimitar-horned oryx from extinct in the wild to endangered and we are pleased to see the success of the reintroduction campaign leading to hundreds of antelope being born in the wild.

Dr Emily HumbleConservation Geneticist, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

This improved status is good news and we hope to contribute to the next steps to further strengthen the growth of this species in the wild, where it can contribute to biodiversity in a region deeply affected by climate change.

Stephanie BrienPostgraduate Researcher, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Related links

International Union for the Conservation of Nature