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Once-Extinct Scimitar-Horned Oryx Returns to the Wild

May 02, 2017 09:33 AM EDT
Conservation experts worked over the last few decades to reintroduce the lost oryx species back to the environment.
(Photo : Ken Bohn/Zoological Society of San Diego/Getty Images)

Good news is rare in the world of endangered animals, but here's one: the once-extinct scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) has made a comeback in the wild in 2017.

According to a report from EnviroNews, 14 oryx from captive breeding programs were just reintroduced to the wild in a game reserve in Chad. The animals joined 21 others who were released back in August 2016. Twenty-five more individual oryx are set to be released in the coming July.

Five thousand years ago, the oryx population was up to one million. One century ago, hundreds of thousands still existed in the wild. By the time the year 2000 rolled around, the species have been declared extinct in the wild by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation experts worked over the last few decades to reintroduce the lost oryx species back to the environment.

The successful reintroduction of oryxes in Chad were the result of a collaboration among the Environment Agency -- Abu Dhabi (EAD), the government of Chad's Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Program, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF), according to the Smithsonian Insider.

"This ambitious and historic recovery effort was made possible by the establishment of a 'world herd' of scimitar-horned oryx in Abu Dhabi, and a decades-long history of excellence in the care and management of this species in human care around the world," SCBI's Steve Monfort said. "Restoring oryx to the wild will have a huge and positive impact on the conservation and management of the entire Sahelian grasslands ecosystem."

The first step of the reintroduction process includes the oryx initially living in a fenced area to acclimate them to their new home. This summer, the group will be fully released as the rainy season makes the desert setting more favorable for the animals' survival. The oryx will be tracked with a GPS-satellite collar.

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