Oryx leucoryx 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Oryx leucoryx (Pallas, 1777)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Arabian Oryx, White Oryx
French Oryx blanc, Oryx d'Arabie
Spanish Orix de Arabia

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-06-21
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Cooke, R.

Arabian Oryx is listed as Vulnerable under criterion D1 because the total population of reintroduced Arabian Oryx is now ca 1,220 (ca 850 mature individuals). This is well above the threshold of 250 mature individuals needed to qualify for Endangered but below the Vulnerable threshold under criterion D1. Even if the reintroduced population in UAE were removed from the total, if management intensity increased, the number of mature individuals would still be 560, more than twice the threshold for EN. The population is stable or increasing and the area of occupancy is also increasing as Oryx are released into new sites. Although numbers in the largest population (Mahazat as Sayd in Saudi Arabia) fell between 1998 and 2008 due to drought-related mortality, they have since stabilised.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Arabian Oryx formerly occurred through most of the Arabian Peninsula, north to Kuwait and Iraq. The species' range had already contracted by the early years of the 20th century and the decline accelerated thereafter. Before 1920, Oryx distribution was separated into areas over 1,000 km apart: a northern population in and around the Nafud, and a larger southern population in the Rub Al Khali and the plains of central-southern Oman. Oryx disappeared from the north in the 1950s. In the south, their range steadily decreased due to hunting, and by the 1960s Oryx were restricted to parts of central and southern Oman. The last wild individuals were probably shot in 1972 on the Jiddat al Harasis.

Arabian Oryx have been reintroduced to Oman (Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, from 1982); Saudi Arabia (Mahazat as-Sayd Reserve, 2,244 km² from 1990; Uruq Bani Ma’arid Reserve, 12,000 km² from 1995); Israel (three sites in the Northern Arava and Negev Desert, from 1997); and United Arab Emirates (Arabian Oryx Reserve, Abu Dhabi, from 2007), and Jordan (Wadi Rum, from 2014).

There is a small introduced population on Hawar Island, Bahrain and large semi-managed populations at several sites in Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Egypt (Sinai); Iraq; Kuwait; Syrian Arab Republic; Yemen
Israel; Jordan; Oman; Saudi Arabia; United Arab Emirates
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Estimates provided at the 17th International Conservation Workshop for Arabian Biodiversity (Sharjah, UAE, February 2016) for populations that qualify as 'wild'  under the Red List Guidelines were: Oman (ca 10); Saudi Arabia (ca 500 in Mahazat as Sayd and 100 in Uruq Bani Ma’arid); Israel (ca 110); UAE 410 (Umm al Zumoul), Jordan (ca 80 in Wadi Rum). There is an ongoing debate over the degree of management intervention of many of these reintroduced populations, most of which are in fenced sites. The 'wild' total is thus 1,220 (ca 850 mature individuals). Overall reintroduced populations are stable or increasing slowly.

An estimated 6,000-7,000 animals are held in captivity worldwide, most of them on the Arabian Peninsula. Some of these are maintained in large fenced enclosures, receiving various amounts of supplemental food and care, including those in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and UAE.

The reintroduced population in Oman reached a high point of 450 in 1994 when illegal live capture began and severely reduced numbers (Spalton et al. 1999). Many of the released animals were taken back into captivity for security.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:850
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Arabian Oryx inhabit several desert habitats, including: barren steppes, stony plains, wadis, and sand dunes. They can survive in areas with low humidity, low rainfall, high, sandy winds, and high ambient temperatures over 45°C; and can withstand droughts up to six months.
Generation Length (years):5.8

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted illegally for sport and food and in the recent past there has been some illegal trade for private collections.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats to this species are illegal hunting, overgrazing and droughts. The Oman Arabian Oryx Sanctuary population was devastated by illegal live capture for sale to private collections and was rendered totally ineffective, with poachers removing or killing at least 200 Oryx in three years (Spalton et al. 1999). In fact, the site is the first ever to be deleted from UNESCO's world heritage list, based on Oman's decision to reduce the size of the protected area by 90% and to proceed with hydrocarbon prospection (UNESCO World Heritage Centre 2015). Some poaching has also been recorded in Uruq Bani Ma’arid in Saudi Arabia. Other populations in protected areas are generally safe from poaching but the security of animals that wander outside release sites cannot be guaranteed, except perhaps in Israel. Drought and overgrazing have reduced habitat quality in places and limited the choice of potential release sites. Prolonged drought in west-central Saudi Arabia resulted in the death of 560 Oryx in the fenced Mahazt as Sayd reserve, 1999-2008 (Islam et al. 2010, 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Protective legislation in all countries with reintroduced populations is adequate. Almost all released animals occur in protected areas. The captive population is well-managed, with an international studbook. In addition, large numbers are kept in breeding centres and private collections, especially in Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia. The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi is considering releases in Iraq (Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi 2010). A regional Arabian Oryx conservation strategy was developed in 2007. The Coordinating Committee for the Conservation of the Arabian Oryx is an inter-governmental body charged with coordination of conservation efforts within the Arabian Peninsula. Reintroductions in Kuwait, Iraq and Syria have also been proposed.

Arabian Oryx are listed on CITES Appendix I.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2017. Oryx leucoryx. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T15569A50191626. . Downloaded on 23 September 2018.
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