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03 March 2024

Al Ain Zoo launches breeding programme for Dama gazelle

Photo: WAM


Al Ain Zoo is managing a controlled breeding programme for two endangered subspecies of the Dama gazelle, Addra and Mhorr gazelles.

The Dama gazelle, with three recognised sub-species, is native to the Sahara and Sahel regions of northern Africa. The Zoo has over 80 Dama gazelles in its collection.

Dama gazelles are listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species as Critically Endangered. The Mhorr sub-species is believed to be extinct in the wild, with the last known sighting in 1968, while the Addra sub-species is extremely rare.

Overall, there are now believed to be only around 100 Dama gazelles in the wild. Al Ain Zoo is the only zoo in the world that has collections of the Mhorr and Addra sub-species, with the Zoo now placing a priority on conservation of the species. Through collaboration with specialists and officials from the range states from Africa, Al Ain Zoo was actively engaged in developing the Dama Gazelle Conservation Strategy, 2019–2028.

Elements of the strategy including collecting and updating information about numbers and locations of Dama gazelles in the wild and the delineation and implementation of strategies to reduce the threat of their extinction, along with captive breeding programmes.

The strategy also includes planning for potential reintroductions of captive-bred animals, including the study of potential locations for reintroductions, along with genetic studies.

Dama gazelles have now disappeared from over 99 per cent of their former range, due to uncontrolled hunting, habitat loss and overgrazing.