Saving the Arabian Oryx in Qatar

(lifePR) ( Gland, )
What's the Story: Qatar is making strong efforts to save the Arabian Oryx, a charismatic species of antelope endemic to Arabia, from extinction. Several well-managed captive breeding programmes are taking place and the species has been successfully reintroduced to a number of managed reserves in the country.

Why it's important: The Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) is a medium sized antelope which is native to the desert and steppe areas of the Arabian Peninsula. It has an average life span of approximately 25 years and can go for long periods without water, tolerating dehydration of up to 20 per cent of its body weight.

The Arabian Oryx was hunted heavily in the 20th century, resulting in it being classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(TM) and placed on CITES Appendix I because of concerns relating to international trade. Today the species is also affected by development, agricultural expansion and drought conditions relating to climate change. As of 2008, the world's population was estimated to be about 1,100 individuals in the wild and 6,000-7,000 individuals in captivity, zoos, reserves and private collections.

Well-managed breeding and reintroduction efforts are improving the status of the Arabian Oryx however, and have led to the species becoming eligible to be down-listed to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List in 2011. In Qatar, a small founding herd was successfully captive bred at the Arabian Oryx Breeding Centre and animals from this stock have been reintroduced to three reserves - Al Shahania, Ushaijrij and Mazhabyah.

A Qatari Oryx named "Orry" was chosen as the official Games mascot for the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
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