Large antelope (130-180 kg) with long, backward-sweeping, curved horns. Overall pelage off-white with strongly contrasting reddish wash to the neck and upper chest. Reddish facial markings through the eye and across the bridge of the nose. Tail long and well-tufted.
Like other desert ungulates, satisfies water requirements through the food it eats. Will drink when water is available and often migrates far in search of new rainfall and green pasture. Herd size between 15-30 head, with much larger assemblies during migrations. Single calf born every 8-9 months. During periods of severe drought, adults succumb and young calves are abandoned.
Inhabitant of Sahelian grasslands and sparse Acacia woodlands. Not a true desert species but will penetrate suitable sub-desert habitats if pasture is available during the wet and cool seasons. Grazer favouring wide variety of grasses (Panicum, Aristida, Cenchrus,Chloris) and many leguminous herbs. Strong affection for wild melons of the genus Citrullus because of high water content.
Former distribution in broad band of suitable habitat across all Sahelo-Saharan countries from ex-Spanish Sahara in the west to the Nile Valley in the east. Last strongholds in central Niger (Termit) and central Chad (Batha, Ouadi Achim).
Extinct in the wild. Last animals probably eastern Niger or central Chad (1990s). Several thousands in Chad and Niger up until late 1970s. Civil war in Chad, and drought and poaching in Niger major causes for final decline. Highly vulnerable to lethal combination of poaching, drought, desertification and encroachment of habitat by rain-fed agriculture and the expansion of pastoralism. Well represented in zoos and private collections, although founder stock is limited.
Extinct in the wild. Listed on Appendix 1 of both the CITES and CMS conventions. Very promising initiatives in several countries (Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Niger) to re-establish semi-wild managed populations in large fenced enclosures. Full reintroduction planned but yet to be implemented.
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