The Oryx Project Welcomes Newborn Dama Gazelle in Chad

The exciting second phase of the Chad scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) reintroduction project has seen more than a few high points and low points since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the immense success of Phase 1 and the reintroduction of about 280 scimitar-horned oryx to the Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve in Chad, Phase 2 called for similar conservation measures to be taken for addax (Addax nasomaculatus), North African ostriches (Struthio camelus camelus), and dama gazelles (Nanger dama).

Given the urgency facing dama gazelles – a species that is literally on the verge of extinction – SCF decided to try to implement the most immediate recommendation from the Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama) Conservation Strategy 2019 – 2028, capturing individuals from the tiny population in the Manga region of Chad. These individuals represent a particularly genetically diverse population of wild dama gazelle. Genetic diversity is known to be the most crucial quality for the conservation of this endangered species as it increases the population’s chances of surviving disease and a changing environment. In January four dama gazelles (three females and one male) were successfully captured thanks to a remarkable teamwork in the field. 

COVID-19 Challenges

However, international and domestic travel restrictions have prevented veterinarians from visiting the four individuals since their capture several months earlier. Without immediate medical oversight, particularly rapidly increasing temperatures this year in the area have resulted in the deaths of two of the four gazelles.

In response to the COVID-19 challenges, though, field staff have implemented new ways to use internet to connect far-away veterinarians with the remaining individuals. Between long-distance, small-scale medical interventions, drug administration, and diet adjustment, reserve field teams have gained invaluable knowledge about caring for dama gazelle, a species known to be particularly difficult to manage in captivity. 

Happy Birthday!

As a result of the hard work of the field teams and the long-distance experts, SCF is thrilled to announce the birth of a dama gazelle calf on August 24th. This birth gives SCF great hope about the potential of a local, captive breeding program to rebuild the population.