Successful release of rare mountain gazelles
Tuesday 6 March 2007
ZSL is delighted to announce the successful release of a group of captive bred Idmi, or Mountain, gazelles in Saudi Arabia. This project is particularly significant as it is the first successful release for the species in over ten years.
The seventeen gazelles, currently classified as Vulnerable to extinction, were released into the Ibex Reserve, which will be their home from now on. They were bred and raised at the King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, in Thumamah, Saudi Arabia, which is managed by ZSL.
The released Mountain gazelles comprised two groups of adult and juvenile male and mixed-age females. The adult males and three females from each group were radio-collared, which will allow them to be tracked as they explore the habitat and settle on their own territories in the new environment. This radio-tracking will provide information about the dispersal and establishment of the animals, as well as their survival.
Dr Richard Kock, head of the Deserts and Rangelands Conservation Programme at ZSL commented “After many years of dedicated work to identify and conserve different species of gazelles in Saudi Arabia, it is fantastic to see a successful release of these elegant creatures. The release is part of the ongoing efforts in the region by the joint Saudi – UK team in to conserve a variety of antelopes, an initiative that is strongly supported by the Saudi people with personal investment and involvement of the Saudi Royal Family.”
The gazelle came from the King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, which is responsible for captive breeding of endangered gazelle species and their reintroduction into secure habitats in protected areas under the direction of Dr Robbie Robinson. ZSL manages the centre on behalf of the Secretary General Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Mohammed al Saud of the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development and there is currently a breeding herd of more than 180 Mountain gazelle.
The Mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild). The species is declining as a result of habitat loss and degradation and hunting historically contributed to this decline.
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Notes to editors
Dr Richard Kock will be available for interview on Monday 5th March – contact Alice Henchley (ZSL Press Officer) to arrange details.
High resolution photographs of released gazelles also available.
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide.
ZSL has been working at the Khalid Wildlife Research Centre (KKWRC) at Thumamah in Saudi Arabia for 20 years, The Centre is an institution of the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development that services conservation and natural resource management objectives in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by:
- maintaining a breeding centre for threatened species e.g. gazelle, which provides a genetically managed biological reserve for conservation and reintroduction
- a wildlife health and genetics centre providing veterinary and laboratory support to conservation in the Middle East and for private collections of wildlife
- carrying out conservation science monitoring and research in the field and region
- environmental awareness and education activities
- capacity building for NCWCD staff members, especially rangers
- providing expert technical advice and assistance, especially relating to international treaties and agreements.
These are encapsulated in the following Mission Statement
KKWRC provides a key international centre of excellence in the Middle East for conservation science, education, training and management in support of regional biodiversity and livelihoods from nature in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The programme builds on strengths that KKWRC has developed over the 20 years that it has been guided by the NCWCD and managed by the Zoological Society of London. This historic partnership brings considerable advantages and international standards helping to maintain the leading position that NCWCD has in conservation of the desert regions.
Zoological Society of London
London NW1 4RY
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