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Two more scimitar-horned oryx calves born in Chad

Animals which were once extinct coming back to life, thanks to UAE’s reintroduction programme

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s reintroduction programme of the scimitar-horned oryx in Chad has received more good news after two more calves were born this month, bringing the total number of newborn calves to six in total.

The scimitar-horned oryx had been previously declared extinct in Chad for the last 30 years, and it was only in October last year that the country saw the birth of its first scimitar-horned oryx calf thanks to the reintroduction programme being led by the Emirates Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).

“This project is probably one of the most significant and ambitious reintroduction programme given its scale as we are planning to reintroduce 500 scimitar-horned oryx over the next five years back into the wild,” said Dr Salim Javed, acting director, terrestrial biodiversity division at EAD.

“The birth of new calves is a big success in terms of what we are trying to achieve, which is to have a self-sustaining population, and that is what the birth of these young calves indicates. It is a very big milestone in bringing these animals back to the wild, not only for the UAE, but for the global conservation community,” he added.

Dr Javed said the calves along with the herd are being monitored, and that the reintroduced animals have been adapting comfortably to their new environment.

“Once the animals are released in the wild, we still monitor and check on them; a satellite GPS tracker collar has been put on the animals which gives us very precise information about their location, and on top of that, we also have a team that go out and follow the animals checking on their status,” he explained.

“The calves and their mothers are taking to the wilderness nicely, everything is going well and they are behaving very naturally, and even adjusting based on the weather conditions like the winter or summer. So all of this is a good indication in terms of how they are getting on since being released,” he added.

According to Dr Javed, 75 scimitar-horned oryx have been sent to Chad so far with 35 of them being released into the wild.

“We have already sent the first three batches of scimitar-horned oryx, this was done in March and November of last year, with the latest batch being sent in January earlier this year.

“When we take the animals to Chad, we do not release them immediately, we let them first acclimatise and make sure that the genetic biodiversity is there, and then afterwards we let them out into the wild,” he added.

Dr Javed also mentioned how the reintroduction programme was being positively received in Chad, with the government and local community lending its support for the project.

“This is an international project and we are doing it in another country, so that takes a lot of preparation and more importantly agreements with the host country as well, and we can say that we have an excellent partnership with Chad.

“The country is getting something back that used to be there but was then lost and extinct. The community over there used to see the scimitar-horned oryx at one time and identified with the animals as part of their country. There is a big amount of support and enthusiasm from the community which is very vital for the conservation programme going forward,” he added.