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.
Photograph: Manie Grobler, KKWRC