Surveying the Sahelo-Sahara and empowering communities
ZSL’s involvement in Tunisia began in the mind 1980's when we played a lead role in organising a response to an approach from the Tunisian Direction Général des Forêts to supply scimitar-horned oryx for re-introduction to the newly developing national park system of the country.
Bou Hedma National Park and the return of scimitar-horned oryx to Tunisia.
After an initial assessment visit, and in collaboration with Marwell Wildlife and Edinburgh Zoological Society , ten oryx ( 5 male and 5 female), were carefully selected from zoo stocks and transported to become founders of a new herd at Bou Hedma National Park in December 1985.
Bou Hedma National Park was established as part of a national plan to establish a series of protected areas representing a full range of protected or restored habitats through Tunisia. The total area available to the oryx at Bou Hedma is close to 20km2 – a comparatively small area for a large aridland antelope, fenced on south east and west, with a steep mountain range blocking passage to the north. Nevertheless the herd thrived in the early years, growing to more than 100 animals by the end of the 1990's, but since then falling back to around half that- a more suitable number relative to the size of the park.
New oryx herds have been established at 3 more fenced national parks in Tunisia since then, with new parks also established for addax, which have also been restored to the country entirely from European and North American zoos.
In collaboration with funding agencies such as CMS , FFEM , the Sahara Conservation Fund , and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund , ZSL has been able to maintain close links with the Tunisian Direction Général des Forêts , assisting with monitoring oryx and addax herds, undertaking surveys of wild slender-horned gazelles in the dunes of the Erg Oriental and helping train Tunisian colleagues in all aspects of nthis work.
To read more about ZSL’s work with oryx, addax and gazelles in Tunisia check out our reports page.