IUCN Species of the Day: Scimitar-Horned Oryx


The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm)

Photo credit: Fondation IGF/G, Roques Rogery


The Scimitar-horned Oryx, Oryx dammah, is listed as ‘EXTINCT IN THE WILD’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Named for its magnificently curved horns, it was once widespread all around the Sahara desert, on the northern fringe, and in the Sahel zone from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, but is believed to have been lost from the wild in 1999.

The original decline of this species is thought to have been caused by major climatic changes that led to the expansion of the Sahara Desert. However, its ultimate demise in the wild has been attributed to overhunting for its meat, hide and horns.

The only remaining Scimitar-horned Oryx occur in a number of captive populations, very few of which occur in its former range. Some are in zoos, and large numbers are being kept in private collections in the Arabian Peninsula and in private game ranches in the USA, South Africa and other countries. A captive breeding programme is in place and, as part of a reintroduction project, individuals have been released into fenced protected areas in Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal, with further reintroductions planned.


Geographic Range of the Scimitar-Horned OryxCredit: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™


To learn more about the Scimitar-Horned Oryx, click here.  Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.


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To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.