Morocco assesses feasibility of a new ungulate reintroduction project
The oryx reintroduction project in Chad can now help other conservation initiatives in the Sahara assess the feasibility of further reintroduction operations by comparing the habitats needed for the animals, using some of the methods that have proved successful in Chad, applying the best practices developed during the different release, collaring, and monitoring missions achieved in the Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve. SCF was invited recently to Morocco, where a very promising ungulate reintroduction program is currently being developed, to visit the sites considered for the reintroduction.
At the invitation of Mr Zouhair Amhaouch, Head of the Parks and Nature Reserves Division, Department of Combating Desertification and Nature Protection of the Office of the High Commission for Water and Forests and Combating Desertification of Morocco (HCEFLCD), a team from the Sahara Conservation Fund, composed of Mr John Newby (Executive Director), Dr Thomas Rabeil (Regional Program Officer) and Mr Marc Dethier (Oryx Project Manager), visited Morocco from 7-13 May, 2018. The SCF team was accompanied by Mr Zouhair Amhaouch and Dr Latifa Sikli, as well as the officials and staff of the sites visited in Souss-Massa, namely Mr Mohamed El Bekkay (Director of Souss Massa National Park) and Ms Widade Oubrou (biologist of the Souss Massa National Park), and Mr Hassan Bakki (sector chief) for the M'cissi reserve.
Morocco is in the process of building a program to reintroduce large ungulates (oryx, addax, dama gazelle) and the North African ostrich, similar to that undertaken by the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi and SCF in Chad for the scimitar-horned oryx. As such, the M'cissi Reserve (south-east of Morocco near to the town of Tinghir) is a key site for this program, which is based on significant social involvement and the development of a scientific and technical program in the reserve and its surrounding reception area.
SCF was asked to share its experiences in Chad and elsewhere: expertise involved, protocols developed, opportunities for collaboration, etc. The mission took place under excellent conditions and the SCF team saw strong commitment and mobilization at all levels for nature conservation and wildlife restoration.
SCF wishes to express its gratitude to the entire team of the Office of the High Commissioner for its hospitality in Agadir, as well as at the sites visited and the professionalism shown in the organization of this mission and during the many exchanges that took place on the theme of the conservation of Sahelo-Saharan antelopes and the ostrich of North Africa in Morocco.
Stay tuned to know more about the following developments of the project, more updates to come on the reintroduction of Sahelo-Saharan species in Morocco!