Scientific name: Addax nasomaculatus
Current range: Formerly widespread in the Sahelo-Saharan region of Africa; now found in parts of Niger and Chad
Conservation status: Critically endangered
Threats: Habitat loss and over-hunting
Related research: C2S2’s Sustainable Herds project
The rarest antelope on earth
Formerly widespread and migrating across the Saharan Desert in northern Africa, the critically endangered addax is now only found in fragmented parts of Niger and Chad. This desert-dwelling antelope has experienced an unprecedented decline in population numbers and suitable habitat, largely due to over-hunting and habitat loss. Despite the addax being well-adapted to the harsh desert environment, prolonged drought has proven to be an additional threat. With fewer than 300 individuals in the wild, conservation action is imperative to save what has become the rarest antelope on earth.
Conservation in action
Due to the small remaining wild population, a global conservation effort has been rallied for the addax, including by zoos accredited by Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). With the aid of substantial captive stocks managed in zoos worldwide, reintroduction efforts are in progress in Tunisia in Northern Africa and are being led by the Sahara Conservation Fund.
For the addax, captive breeding in zoological collections can immediately benefit ongoing reintroduction efforts in two ways, first by providing source animals, and secondly by increasing fundamental biological knowledge about the species. While this species exists in zoos in substantial numbers, the genetic diversity of the population is not being maintained, making the species vulnerable to inbreeding depression. Because of its substantial space and scientific expertise, including in innovative herd and genetic management, C2S2 has the capacity to help quickly stabilize and reverse this species’ dire situation in North America. The consortium is committed to working with traditional AZA zoo partners to advance scientific knowledge that inevitably will improve the ability to conserve this species both in captivity and in the wild, including contributing to more reintroductions into nature.
Conservation of the addax is a C2S2 priority. Along with a host of AZA-accredited partners and the Species Survival Plan, C2S2 is developing new approaches for increasing population sizes and improving the quality of addax (and other endangered ungulates). Particularly exciting is C2S2’s Sustainable Herds Project.