Despite previously occurring over vast tracts of the Sahara in very large numbers, the scimitar-horned oryx Oryx dammah is now extinct in the wild. The species suffered catastrophic losses through uncontrolled hunting exacerbated by other factors such as habitat fragmentation. We manage the International Studbook and European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for scimitar-horned oryx, and have been instrumental in creating international conservation strategies for the species. We are also at the forefront of reintroduction efforts including the return of scimitar-horned oryx to four protected areas in Tunisia as part of a wider initiative to restore their arid steppe habitat.
We now focus on the management of the Tunisian meta-population of scimitar-horned oryx, addressing questions that affect their long-term viability and how to sustain these herds within the available habitat. This includes ongoing monitoring of animal health, oryx population performance and the wider environment, while carrying out research on the ecology and genetics of reintroduced herds.