Oryx dammah 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Oryx dammah (Cretzschmar, 1826)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Scimitar-horned Oryx
French Oryx Algazelle, Oryx De Libye
Spanish Orix de Cimitarra

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct in the Wild ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-04-27
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
Regarded as Extinct in the Wild as there has been no confirmed evidence of the survival of this species since the early 1990s, despite extensive surveys dedicated to detection of Sahelo-Saharan antelopes carried out in Chad and Niger.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Scimitar-horned Oryx probably occurred throughout the Sahel and sub-desert zones of N Senegal, S and W Mauritania, C Mali (and north into the desert zone), N Burkina Faso, C and S Niger (into the northern desert zone with seasonal rainfall and good pasture availability), C and N Chad and C Sudan (East 1999, Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren 2005, Morrow et al. 2013). It is now Extinct in the Wild. In Algeria they were found in the south and vagrants likely occurred north of the Sahara (De Smet and Smith 2001). In Egypt, the historical range included most of the Western Desert, west of the River Nile, but mostly in oases and wadis (Morrow et al. 2013). In Libya the species was described in regions close to known populations in N Chad and the Western Desert of Egypt. There are no confirmed records of Scimitar-horned Oryx from Libya. The species formerly occurred in Western Sahara (Aulagnier et al. 2001). Oryx may have occurred at least sporadically in S Tunisia, but some doubted that an established population existed and none were able to provide first-hand information or reliably sourced specimens (Morrow et al. 2013 and references therein). Oryx formerly inhabited only extreme NE Nigeria, possibly only as a seasonal migrant (East 1999).

The species has been released into fenced enclosures in four protected areas in Tunisia and one in Senegal as part of long-term reintroduction programmes, though none of these is yet considered a full 'reintroduction onto the wild'. An ambitious project to restore the species to Ouadi-Rimé-Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve in Chad is under way, led by Sahara Conservation Fund, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi and the Chadian government.
Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Algeria; Burkina Faso; Chad; Egypt; Libya; Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Sudan; Western Sahara
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Iyengar et al. (2007) suggested that the population may have reached 1 million when Scimitar-horned Oryx range was at its maximum, during the early Holocene (9500–4500 BP). Until the mid-20th century the species seems to have remained common in the Sahel, where herds of several hundred, and sometimes several thousand, were recorded, notably in Chad and Niger (Newby 1988). A herd of 10,000 was recorded in Chad in 1936 according to Bassett (1975). In the 1950s and early 1960s, herds of 100 or more were regularly reported in Chad and Niger but only small populations farther west, and a very few in eastern Chad and further east (Gillet 1969, Newby 1988, Dragesco-Joffé 1993). By the end of the 1970s the world population was estimated at 6,000 individuals (Newby 1988). Oryx were estimated to number 4,000–6,000 in the Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim region in 1975-1978, following rigorous anti-poaching and several good rainy seasons but then were reduced following the interruption of protection (Thomassey and Newby 1990). At the beginning of the 1980s, there were <200 in Niger (Grettenberger and Newby 1990) and perhaps a few small groups elsewhere, for example in Mali (Heringa 1990). The last herds in Chad disappeared in the late 1980s-early 1990s.

There are captive populations in fenced protected areas in several former range states: in Tunisia, there were ca. 100 in Dghoumes N.P. in 2014 (Cooke et al. in press), ca. 50 in Oued Dekouk N.P. (2014) and ca. 40 in both Bou Hedma N.P. (2012) and Sidi-Toui N.P. (2014); in Morocco, there were >300 in Souss-Massa N.P. in 2015; and in Senegal, there were around 40 at Guembeul in 2009 and 120 at Ferlo in 2012 (T. Gilbert and M. Petretto, unpublished data). These populations are all maintained in fenced enclosures of varying sizes and are subject to different degrees of management. None is eligible for consideration as a reintroduced population for Red List assessment purposes. In Chad, 25 animals were transferred to Oudi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve in March 2016 and are due to be released into the reserve in August 2016. A further 50 animals are due to follow in autumn 2016.
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Primarily inhabits sub-desert, annual grassland steppe areas, wooded inter-dunal depressions and vegetated ephemeral watercourses; rarely entering true desert or true Sahelian bush (Morrow et al. 2013).
Generation Length (years):7.5
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Prior to their extinction in the wild Scimitar-horned Oryx were prized by local people for their meat and hide (Morrow et al. 2013). Their thick hide was used for ropes, bags, shoes and shield coverings and they were targeted by trophy hunters for their horns (Morrow et al. 2013).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overhunting and habitat loss, including competition with domestic livestock, have been reported as the main reasons for the extinction of the wild population of Scimitar-horned Oryx (Mallon and Kingswood 2001, Devillers and Devillers-Terschuren 2005, Morrow et al. 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: A global captive breeding programme was initiated in the 1960s. The International Studbook currently records 1749 Scimitar-horned Oryx in 221 institutions with up to 11,000 on Texas ranches and 4,000 in collections in the UAE and other Gulf countries (Gilbert 2015). Most of the animals in the ISB and in Texas are thought to be descended from 40-50 founders, originating in Chad, so it is likely that the proportion of genetic diversity represented is low.

As part of planned reintroduction projects, animals have been released into fenced protected areas in Tunisia (Bou Hedma N.P. 1985, Sidi Toui N.P. 1999, Oued Dekouk N.P. 1999, Dghoumes N.P. 2007), Morocco (Souss-Massa N.P. 1995), and Senegal (Ferlo F.R 1998, Guembeul W.R. 1999). A large-scale reintroduction is under way in Ouadi-Rimé Ouadi-Achim Faunal Reserve, Chad. A first tranche of 25 animals was transferred to acclimatization enclosures in the reserve in March 2016 (Newby 2016).

The Scimitar-horned Oryx is listed on CMS Appendix I and CITES Appendix I. There are national strategies to restore the species in Tunisia (DGF 2001) and Morocco (Cuzin et al. 2007).

Classifications [top]

2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability:Suitable  major importance:No
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable  major importance:No
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
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
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

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

Bibliography [top]

Aulagnier, S., Cuzin, F., Thevenot, M. and Loggers, C. 2001. Morocco. In: D. P. Mallon and S. C. Kingswood (eds), Antelopes. Part 4: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Global Survey and Regional Action Plans, pp. 13-21. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Bassett, T. H. 1975. Oryx and Addax in Chad. Oryx 13: 50-51.

Cooke, R. S. C., Woodfine, T., Petretto, M. and Ezard, T. H. G. 2016. Resource partitioning between ungulate populations in arid environments. Ecology and Evolution 6(17): 6354-6365.

Cuzin, F., Sehhar, E.A. and Wacher, T. 2007. Etude pour l'élaboration de lignes directrices et d'un plan d'action stratégique pour la conservation des ongulés au Maroc. Haut Commissariat aux Eaux et Forêts et à la Lutte Contre le Désertification (HEFLCD), Projet de Gestion des Aires Protégées (PGAP) et Banque Mondiale, Global Environment Facility (GEF). Two volumes.

De Smet, K. and Smith, T. R. 2001. Algeria. In: D. P. Mallon and S. C. Kingswood (eds), Antelopes. Part 4. North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Global Survey and Regional Action Plans, pp. 22-29. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.

Devillers, P. and Devillers-Terschuren, J. 2005. Oryx dammah. In: R. C. Beudels, P. Devillers, R. M. Lafontaine, J. Devillers-Terschuren and M. O. Beudels (eds), Sahelo-Saharan Antelopes. Status and Perspectives. Report on the conservation status of the six Sahelo-Saharan Antelopes. CMS SSA Concerted Action. 2nd edition. CMS Technical Series Publication N°11, 2005. UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Bonn, Germany.

DGF. 2001. Stratégie nationale tunisiennepour la conservation et la restauration des antilopes sahélo-sahariennes et de leurs habitats. . Direction-Générale des Forets, Ministère de l'Agriculture., Tunis.

Dragesco-Joffé, A. 1993. La Vie sauvage au Sahara. Delachaux et Niestlé, Lausanne, Switzerland.

East, R. (compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Gilbert, T. 2015. International studbook for the scimitar-horned oryx Oryx dammah. Tenth edition. Current to 31 December 2014. Marwell Wildlife, Winchester, UK.

Gillet, H. 1969. L'oryx algazelle et l'addax au Tchad, Distribution géographique. Chances de survie. C. R. Soc. Biogéogr. 405: 177-189.

Grettenberger, J.F., Newby, J.E. 1990. Niger. In: East, R. (ed.), Antelope. Global survey and regional action plans. Part 3. West and Centrral Africa, pp. 14-22. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Heringa, A.C. 1990. Mali. In: R. East (ed.), Antelopes: Global survey and regional action plans. Part 3: West and Central Africa, pp. 8-14. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Iyengar, A., Gilbert, T., Woodfine, T., Knowles, M., Dinz, F.M., Brenneman, R.A., Louis Jr E.E., Maclean, M. 2997. Remnants of ancient genetic diversity preserved within caotive groups of scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah). . Molecular Ecology 16: 2436-2449.

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.

Morrow, C., Molcanova, R. and Wacher, T. 2013. Oryx dammah Scimitar-horned Oryx. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. VI: Pigs, Hippopotamuse, Chevrotain, Giraffes, Deer, and Bovids, pp. 586-592. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Newby, J. E. 1988. Aridland wildlife in decline: the case of the scimitar-horned oryx. In: A. Dixon and D. M. Jones (eds), Conservation and biology of desert antelopes, pp. 146-166. Christopher Helm, London, UK.

Thomassey, J.-P. and Newby, J. E. 1990. Chad. In: R. East (ed.), Antelopes: Global Survey and Regional Action Plans. Part 3: West and Central Africa, pp. 22-28. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Oryx dammah. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T15568A50191470. . Downloaded on 24 September 2018.
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