THOMAS RABEIL/SAHARA CONSERVATION FUND
A report from an extensive survey done in March across key Addax habitat identified just three remaining individuals, reports the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The impressive antelope once roamed extensively across North Africa, from Algeria to Sudan, but it may not be long until they only exist in captivity.
The Addax has faced persecution from multiple sources, such as oil installations in Niger operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The associated encroachment of desert-going lorries and bulldozers, is coupled with the assignment of military personnel to protect the oil industry which has lead to illegal hunting by soldiers. The result is a severe level of disturbance in the animals last remaining ‘haven’, and Africa’s largest protected area, the Termit & Tin-Toumma National Nature Reserve in eastern Niger.
Another major contributor to the Addax plight has been the civil unrest in the likes of Libya, Mali, and Nigeria, with militia or solders often ending up in areas with significant wildlife populations – the resulting poaching having a devastating effect.
Lessons from a similar scenario involving the scimitar-horned oryx, once numbering in their millions, have been of no use it seems. However it has been sited as a conservation success in that although they now only survive in captivity, the species was saved from near extinction.
“We are witnessing in real time the extinction of this iconic and once plentiful species – without immediate intervention, the Addax will lose its battle for survival in the face of illegal, uncontrolled poaching and the loss of its habitat,” explains Dr. Jean-Christophe Vié, the Deputy Director of the IUCN Global Species Programme.