Status Critically Endangered
Size Head and body length: 110-130cm. Tail length: 25-35cm
Gestation 8 ½ - 9 months
Life span Up to 25 years in captivity, less in the wild
Addax will feed on different plants such as desert grasses, species of acacia plants and herbs. They are most active during the night when it is cooler, and spend most of this time looking for food (foraging). During the heat of the day they will rest in the shade.
Addax were once found across Northern Africa and in the Sahara. However these animals are thought to be in isolated areas in Niger, Chad and possibly along the border of Mali and Mauritania. Recent surveys suggest that the addax is now nearly extinct in the wild.
The addax is a desert antelope and is built to survive extreme temperatures and areas where there is little rain. In the Sahara these habitats would include gravelly and sandy plains, dune fields, and sandy basins. They prefer the flat areas in and between dune fields, where plants can grow for them to eat and hard packed sand.
Addax are social animals and like to live in herds of around 5-15 individuals, normally led by a dominant male. These animals do not have a particular breeding season, as they can breed throughout the year when conditions are good. Just before giving birth, the female will move away from her group (this is thought to avoid the attention of the dominant male) and will have a single calf. The female will usually give birth in a shallow scrape in the ground underneath vegetation, if it is available. Both the female and young calf will re-join the herd after 3 to 4 days from birth.
Young addax are fully weaned from their mother at around 6 to 10 months. These antelope are mature by the time they are 2-2.5 years old.
In the past the main predators of addax were lions, leopards and hyena. Young addax calves may be targeted by golden jackals; however the main threat to these desert antelope is now humans.
The number of wild addax has dropped dramatically over the years. This is mostly due to over-hunting after automatic weapons and 4x4 vehicles were introduced to the region.
Addax also face threats from loss of natural habitat due to drought and increasing demand for human settlements. Further habitat loss and destruction for these antelope has been caused by civil war and unrest within their natural range, increase in agriculture, the construction of wells which has led to more land being available to raise livestock (pastorialism) in desert lands and oil exploration within this habitat.
These animals are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which forbids the international trade of this species. They are also protected under national legislations across their range, and the hunting of these animals is forbidden by law. Due to the great loss in numbers and destruction of much of their habitat and natural range, it is feared in some areas that is may be too late to save the species in the wild. However, Marwell is working with the Tunisian government to restore addax populations to protected areas in Tunisia, and they can now be found in three fenced national parks.
In captivity addax can be found in many animal collections worldwide, and are a part of captive breeding programs across the world. These programmes are put in place to ensure the survival of the species.
Addax have large spongy hooves that splay out to stop them sinking in the sand within their desert habitat.
These antelope are perfectly adapted for life in harsh deserts. They are light and pale in colour to reflect radiant heat from the sun, their body temperature can rise without causing them to be stressed or ill and they can even cool their blood down through an efficient cooling system within their nasal sinuses in their skull.
To keep cool, these animals will dig out ‘beds’ using their hooves and horns in the sand under shade to avoid the heat of the day.
These animals are very rarely seen drinking in the wild. They will gain enough moisture that they need from the plants that they eat!
Wonderful team of people helping us complete the hard work required in a fantastic location. Could not fault the day enjoyed it thoroughly! Carlie, SSE, 23rd May 2018