Middle East

First Arabian Oryx born in Saudi Arabia after 90 years

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Royal Reserve (KSRNR) has announced the birth of a wild Arabian Oryx, a first in the kingdom in 90 years.

The calf was born at the country’s largest nature reserve, located in the Northern Borders province “after the interrupted labour of the Arabian oryx species that lasted 90 years”, authorities said on Monday.

The Arabian Oryx was successfully released back into the wild under a programme to reintroduce endangered species back into their natural habitats. The birth is the culmination of the cooperation between the KSRNR’s Development Authority and the National Centre for Wildlife, which resulted in the reintroduction of several Oryx in the reserve in March.

The Arabian Oryx or white oryx is the largest land mammal in the Arabian Peninsula, weighing up to 80 kilogrammes, and is only one of four oryx species to exist outside of Africa. It was thought to be extinct in the wild in 1972, however successful captive breeding and reintroduction efforts have ensured its population is now over 1,000 in the wild.

The antelope is also the national animal of neighbouring UAE, which is home to the largest population at almost 7,000.

The Saudi Gazette yesterday described the birth as “a major boost to the preservation of these species, which disappeared from the region for decades as a result of many environmental pressures, reckless hunting and loss of vegetation cover that led to a decrease in its numbers and then its disappearance from the wild.”

READ: Saudi Arabia turns to drought-surviving saxaul tree for climate defence

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