Project started
13 January 1987
Project ended
11 January 2016
Project status

King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre (KKWRC) is one of the largest gazelle breeding centres in the world. We managed KKWRC for the Saudi Wildlife Authority from 1987 until 2016, making it our oldest field-based conservation project. We worked directly with The Saudi Wildlife Authority and have enjoyed 28 years of support and success within the Kingdom. 

The Living Collection (our breeding population of gazelles) acted as a genetic reservoir for a number of highly threatened species, and as a source to supplement wild populations. We ran a number of long-term monitoring programmes within Protected Areas, as well as active research into mammal biodiversity, using the latest remote camera technology. 

The KKWRC laboratory carries out a range of screening and disease diagnosis, and houses one of the most important collections of biological samples in the Arabian Peninsula.

Conservation in Asia

Two gazelle Saudi Arabia
Three Arabian gazelle

We provided the Saudi Wildlife Authority with expertise in the captive management of threatened species, and provided conservation support, training and assistance in monitoring the extensive Protected Area network within Saudi Arabia. 

Early involvement focused on the conservation breeding, reintroduction and post-release monitoring of animals into a range of Protected Areas. Since the successful reintroductions, we focused on providing applied conservation support through training Protected Area Managers and field rangers in survey techniques, providing management advice and regular supplementary reintroductions. 

Hainan gibbon conservation

Establishing wildlife conservation in Saudi Arabia 

We have been involved in various projects over the years including:

  • Long-term captive management and breeding of four key threatened species (Arabian and Sand Gazelles, Nubian Ibex and Arabian Oryx)
  • Successful reintroduction and monitoring of Arabian and Sand Gazelles into the Empty Quarter, a vast area of desert in the southern Arabian Peninsula
  • Successful reintroduction of Arabian Gazelles into the Ibex Reserve Protected Area
  • Long term monitoring of Nubian Ibex and Arabian Gazelle populations in the Ibex Reserve Protected Area
  • A camera trap survey within the Ibex Reserve Protected Area to assess the diversity of small and medium-sized mammals
  • National genetic survey of the Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus arabs)
  • Contributing to the understanding of the complex area of gazelle genetics
  • Periodic censuses of gazelle populations in protected areas such as The Farasan Islands, The Ibex Reserve, Uruq Bani Ma’arid and Harrat al Harrah
  • Collection and archiving of more than 75,000 biological samples from a range of Saudi Arabian wildlife.
Reintroducing scimitar-horned oryx to Chad

We achieved the return of the iconic scimitar-horned oryx to its homelands on the edge of the Sahara desert after the recent successful release of 14 captive-bred animals to a remote region of Chad.

This is only the second group to return to the wild after the species was classified as Extinct in the Wild by the IUCN in 2000. 

Celebrating conservation in Saudi Arabia 

After 28 years, we have handed back the reins at the King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre (KKWRC) to the Saudi Wildlife Authority, which will oversee future management of the centre.

The Centre has delivered some tremendous results over the years, including reintroducing two species of gazelle to the Uruq Bani M'Arid protected area; a region from which they had disappeared. Over the years, ZSL have been working on cutting edge research and conservation at the Centre and we have been responsible for the only successful reintroductions of wild antelopes anywhere in the world.

We have built a firm foundation to restore and safeguard wildlife in the country for years to come. 

Restoring wildlife

  • Guam kingfisher (Sihek) sitting on branch
    The Guam kingfisher that was wiped out by snakes

    Sihek conservation

    We're creating solutions to save the sihek from the jaws of extinction - as invasive snakes outnumber people in Guam by 10 to 1.

  • ZSL anti-poaching patrol in Dja reserve Cameroon
    Protecting a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Dja conservation complex

    Empowering local people to protect their home and the wildlife they live alongside.

  • Chinese giant salamander sitting on a rock beside a stream
    Creating a new future for an ancient species

    Chinese giant salamander conservation

    Together with our partners, we completed the largest ever wildlife survey in Chinese conservation history, and discovered just 24 giant salamanders, all of which were likely escapees from farms.

  • Hazel dormouse close-up, dark circular eyes with rosy orange fur
    Reintroducing the hazel dormouse to British countryside

    Hazel dormouse

    By working together with our conservation partners, we've managed to successfully reintroduce over 1,000 dormice

  • Black rhino, hooked up lip can be seen which is main difference with white rhino
    Reducing poaching to secure the future of this iconic animal

    Black rhino

    We’re working with lots of different partners to find new ways to fight poaching for the illegal wildlife trade – for example, with technology that uses sensors and cameras to detect humans and wildlife.

  • Olm swimming in the darkness of a cave through the rocks, pale pink snake like in appearance with four small lake. Smooth with no clear features.
    Underwater dragons


    Olms can live up to 10 years without food and are adapted to living in total darkness.

  • Three scimitar-horned oryxes in Chad
    Scimitar-horned oryx

    Reintroducing scimitar-horned oryx to Chad

    Reintroducing oryx from one of our conservation Zoo's to one of the world’s largest protected areas at over 78,000km².

  • Protecting species
Subscribe to conservation emails
Join us on our journey leading wildlife conservation across the globe.