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Four Dama gazelles recently observed in Niger

The National Nature Reserve of Aïr and Ténéré in Niger is home to some iconic animal species - among which the dama gazelle (Nanger dama), one of the most endangered antelopes on the planet.

 

Due to human activity in the valleys – which sadly often results in more poaching - the dama gazelle has found refuge on the Takoloukouzet mountain, which is located in the reserve. The species is still listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN list with only a few hundred individuals still living in the wild.

Following a period of political instability in Northern Niger, the species was considered possibly extinct in the reserve. However, local populations mentioned the presence of some last individuals in very remote places with no possible access by vehicle. A joint mission of SCF and the Direction de la Faune de la chasse et des Parcs et Réserves (DFC/PR) funded by the World Heritage Fund, finally confirmed this information.

 

Dama gazelle in the wild in Niger

 

In January 2017, SCF put thirteen camera traps in this area to learn more about the distribution and number of animals living there. The aim is also to provide more information to the wildlife authorities responsible for the reserve’s management. This would help them determine what specific activities are needed for the conservation of the species in the area.

Every six months, members of SCF Niger ‘staff go on a mission on the Takolokouzet to collect the data from the camera traps, check and move them, which allows to cover most of the area. In February, 4 Dama gazelles were observed and several indirect observations were made. A drone was also given a try this time as part of both monitoring and mapping activities. This new tool will definitely make things easier on this difficult-to-access rough terrain…