What’s on has details of the successful breeding programme at Al Ain Zoo, the Abu Dhabi safari park.

The threat of extinction of the Arabian oryx is now no more thanks to Al Ain Zoo’s breeding and conservation efforts.

The Arabian oryx had been listed as an endangered species for decades, but in the ‘70s, when their numbers in the UAE declined to no more than seven in the wild, the directives of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan encouraged the country to develop conservation programmes to help save the species.

Commenting on the importance of the Arabian oryx and the Zoo’s conservation efforts, Muna Al Dhaheri, Chief of Conservation and Education at Al Ain Zoo said:

“Al Ain Zoo has adopted several conservation programmes highly focused on captive management and breeding, propagation, and reintroduction of endangered species such as the Arabian Oryx. “

These propagation programmes have proved so successful that the Arabian Oryx has changed classification on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, from extinct in the wild to near threatened – a huge triumph for the UAE.

“The Arabian oryx is one of the animals that was made available at the zoo since its establishment,” said Al Dhaheri. “Today, Al Ain Zoo is home to a significant amount of healthy Arabian oryx and was also successful in achieving a gender balance amongst the animal, which is usually difficult to accomplish when breeding animals in captivity.”

The Arabian oryx is known for its ability to fully adapt to the desert environment and reduce its need for water consumption during the summer. When water is scarce, the Arabian oryx can supply themselves with the water from the dewdrops that form on the surface of plants. They are also known for their identical large horns, which can appear as one horn when seen from side on.

It was stated earlier on Monday that as a result of the zoo’s efforts, an impressive 5,000 oryx have now been released into the wild.

Illegal hunting, urbanisation, and the recent restriction of the desert areas are just a few of the reasons behind the animals near extinction.