Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

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

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct in the Wild ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.P. & Plowman, A. (Antelope Red List Authority)
There has been no definite evidence of the survival of this species in the wild for more than 15 years. Sporadic reports of animals sighted in Niger and Chad have never been substantiated, despite extensive surveys dedicated to detection of Sahelo-Saharan antelopes carried out in Chad and Niger in 2001-2004.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2007 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
2000 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
1996 Critically Endangered (CR)
1994 Endangered (E)
1990 Endangered (E)
1988 Endangered (E)
1986 Endangered (E)
1965 Status inadequately known-survey required or data sought

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:May formerly have been widespread across North Africa, at least in arid and Saharan areas, but now Extinct in the Wild over all its range. Captive herds are kept in fenced protected areas in Tunisia, Senegal and Morocco (Sous Massa National Park (probably outside the known historical range) as part of long-term reintroduction programmes.
Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Algeria; Burkina Faso; Chad; Egypt; Libya; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Sudan; Tunisia; Western Sahara
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:An estimated 500 Oryx survived at least until 1985 in Chad and Niger, but by 1988 only a few dozen individuals survived in the wild and since then there have been no confirmed reports of any wild oryx surviving in the wild (Morrow in press).

There are captive populations in fenced protected areas in several former range states: in Tunisia, there were 130 in Bou Hedma N.P. in 2005, 25 in Sidi-Toui N.P. (2006), and 12 in Oued Dekouk N.P. (2006); in Morocco, there were 240 in Souss-Massa N.P. in 2005; and in Senegal, there were 18 at Guembeul and 12 at Ferlo in 2004 (see Morrow in press, and refs therein). 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 released population for assessment purposes.
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Primarily inhabits sub-desert, annual grassland steppe areas. Found in rolling dunes, grassy steppes and wooded inter-dunal depressions, rarely entering true desert or true Sahelian bush. The Scimitar-horned Oryx is well adapted to arid areas.
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

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 in press).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Scimitar-horned Oryx is listed on CMS Appendix 1. A global captive breeding programme was initiated in the 1960s. In 2005 there were at least 1,550 captive animals held in managed breeding programmes around the world (Gilbert 2005). In addition, a large number, probably >4,000 are kept in a private collection in the United Arab Emirates. Additional animals are likely held on private game ranches in the USA. As part of planned reintroduction projects, animals have been released into fenced protected areas in Tunisia (Bou Hedma National Park 1985, Sidi Toui National Park 1999, Oued Dekouk National Park 1999), Morocco (Souss-Massa National Park 1995), and Senegal (Ferlo Faunal Reserve 1998, Guembuel Wildlife Reserve 1999). Reintroduction is currently also planned at a site in Niger. It is listed on CITES Appendix I.

Classifications [top]

2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability: Suitable  
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
suitability: Suitable  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
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 -> 5.4.1. International level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
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]

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.

East, R. 1999. African Antelope Database 1999. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Gilbert, T. 2005. International Studbook for scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah). Unpublished Report by Marwell Preservation Trust, Winchester, UK.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

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. M. In press. Oryx dammah. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Newby, J. E. 1988. Aridland wildlife in decline: the case of the scimitar-horned oryx. Christopher Helm, London, UK.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2008. Oryx dammah. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T15568A4822675. . Downloaded on 09 October 2015.
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