The world’s rarest gazelle
The addra, a symbol of speed and grace, has been the target of aggressive and uncontrolled hunting to the point of near-extinction. Due to a rapidly shrinking habitat, prolonged drought and political unrest, there are fewer than 200 addra gazelle in the wild. Further complicating this species’ survival, the addra’s native range is in one of the poorest regions in Africa where conservation is very challenging.
Conservation in action
The addra gazelle’s survival requires healthy and stable populations in nature. It is especially important to protect the last remaining pockets of free-living animals in Chad, Niger, and Mali. Besides securing and monitoring protected areas in its natural range, there is a need to understand more about the species’ biology and to increase animal numbers through intensive captive management programs. This will provide a hedge against extinction, research opportunities, and a source of gazelles for future reintroductions into remaining or restored habitat.
The addra gazelle is an ideal target species for this effort due to its specialized husbandry requirements and a need for space with little public disturbance. Thus, the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) is working in partnership to rapidly increase the size of the captive population as a security measure and to eventually contribute to reintroduction. In parallel, C2S2 scientists are studying the life history traits of this rare species and generating new information to ensure its routine propagation in large numbers — by natural breeding or by assisted reproduction, including artificial insemination.
The addra gazelle is a model for how C2S2 breeding centers are combining space, expertise, and scientific research to create self-sustaining populations of rare ungulates. Particularly exciting is how C2S2 manages herds of this species in naturalistic, large-sized environments to produce offspring with normal social and reproductive abilities.