Oryx leucoryx 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Oryx leucoryx
Species Authority: (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: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-03-13
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D. & Hoffmann, M.

The 2008 assessment noted that Arabian Oryx no longer qualified for the Endangered category under criterion D on the basis of increasing numbers, and that Vulnerable D1 was appropriate and would have applied from 2006. Under IUCN Red List Guidelines, a species only moves to a lower category of threat if none of the criteria for the higher category (here Endangered) have been met for a period of five years or more. As this remains the case with Arabian Oryx, the transfer to Vulnerable should take effect from 2011.  

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 stabilized. The total reintroduced population is now ca.1,000, so well over the threshold of 250 mature individuals needed to qualify for Endangered under criterion D. The population is stable or increasing and the area of occupancy is also increasing as oryx are released into new sites.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Endangered (EN)
2003 Endangered (EN)
1996 Endangered (EN)
1994 Endangered (E)
1990 Endangered (E)
1988 Endangered (E)
1986 Endangered (E)
1965 Very rare and believed to be decreasing in numbers

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); United Arab Emirates (Arabian Oryx Reserve, Abu Dhabi, from 2007); and Jordan (Wadi Rum, beginning 2009).

Reintroductions in Kuwait, Iraq and Syria have also been proposed. There is a small introduced population on Hawar Island, Bahrain and large semi-managed populations at several sites in Qatar and UAE.

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

Population [top]

Population:Current total population is estimated at approximately 1,000: Oman (approximately 50); Saudi Arabia (approximately 600: 400 in Mahazat as Sayd and 200 in Uruq Bani Ma’arid); United Arab Emirates (approximately 200), Israel (over 100) and Jordan (c.50). The population in Oman reached a high point of 450 before illegal live capture began and severely reduced numbers. Now only males remain. In Saudi Arabia, numbers are roughly stable in Uruq Bani Ma’arid, but have declined in Mahazat As Sayd, which is completely fenced and where animals have exceeded carrying capacity. There has been a slow, but steady increase in the Israeli population. Numbers in the Arabian Oryx Reserve, Abu Dhabi are also increasing slowly.

An estimated 6,000-7,000 animals are held in captivity worldwide, mostly within the region. Some of these are maintained in large fenced enclosures, including those in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria (Al Talila Reserve) and UAE.

Current population trend is stable or increasing slowly.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Inhabits sandy and stony deserts.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted for sport and food.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Oman population has been devastated by illegal live capture for sale to private collections and has been rendered totally ineffective. Some poaching has been recorded in Uruq Bani Ma’arid. Other populations in protected areas are generally secure 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 further release sites.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Protective legislation in all countries with reintroduced populations is adequate. Almost all released animals occur in protected areas. Captive population is well-managed, with an international studbook. In addition, large numbers are kept in private collections, especially in Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia. The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi is funding the reintroduction into Jordan and is considering releases in Iraq. 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. It is listed on CITES Appendix I.

Classifications [top]

8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Sport hunting/specimen collecting
 National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)/The Coordination Committee for the Conservation of the Arabian Oryx (CCCAO)/IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2010. Arabian Oryx Regional Conservation Strategy and Action Plan. Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 16 June 2011).

Mallon, D. P. and Kingswood, S. C. 2001. Antelopes. Part 4: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Global Survey and Regional Action Plans. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Spalton, J. A., Lawrence, M. W. and Brend, S. A. 1999. Arabian oryx reintroduction in Oman: successes and setbacks. Oryx 33: 168-175.

Stanley-Price, M. R. 1989. Animal Reintroductions: the Arabian Oryx in Oman. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2013. Oryx leucoryx. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T15569A4824960. . Downloaded on 25 November 2015.
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