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One of the World’s Rarest Antelopes at Orana

One of the World’s Rarest Antelopes at Orana

The newest addition to Orana Wildlife Park is the critically endangered addax, a Saharan desert antelope with spectacular twisting horns. These animals are on the verge of extinction in the wild; their population is believed to be less than 100 animals.

Addax have been eliminated from much of their original range and are now mostly restricted to one subpopulation in Niger, North West Africa. The primary reason for their decline has been uncontrolled hunting over many years for their prized meat, hide and horns. Their numbers continue to decline due to poaching and disturbance from oil exploration.

Orana now holds the only addax in the country; three females were transferred from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in March and a male has just been transferred from Werribee Open Range Zoo. The animals have been successfully integrated and will move on public display for the first timetomorrow. It is thought this is the first time addax have ever been held in New Zealand! The Park has joined the zoo-based breeding programme and any future offspring will be managed at Orana.

Exotic Species Manager, Jenny Bowles, says her team is privileged to hold such rare animals: “they are simply stunning with impressive horns and such beautiful face markings. In time we hope to breed these wonderful animals. The addax will be housed opposite our gorillas and orang-utans meaning visitors will be able to observe and learn about three species of critically endangered animals in close proximity.

Addax are amazingly well adapted to survive in harsh desert climates. Their coat darkens in winter and lightens in summer as an efficient way of maintaining body temperature. They are mainly active at night; during the day they rest in depressions that they dig in the sand. Addax rarely need to drink as they get moisture from their food” adds Jenny.

Although addax are extremely rare in the wild, they are more common in captivity. Approximately 800 are held in zoos around the world in managed breeding programmes. A further 5,000 are thought to be held in private collections and ranches in America and the Middle East. Addax have been successfully reintroduced to protected areas within National Parks in Tunisia as well as Morocco.

“The animals have completed quarantine and settled in well at Orana so are now ready to move on public display. This is a great opportunity for visitors to see and learn about one of the world’s rarest antelope species” concludes Jenny.

- ENDS -

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