Earth Optimism: Oryx

The scimitar-horned oryx is a species that
went extinct in North Africa in 1980. It was eighteen years ago that the community got together and decided we were going to make something happen. We’re in the middle of a program to re-release them back into Chad into their native habitat. Oryx have bred well in zoos. They’re well-represented. So there was a good population to gather from
for the released animals. I can tell you when that box opened and the animals ran out, it was one of these few times in my career where I literally spontaneously just was overcome with joy. Using satellite technology we’re able to track them. Everyday on my cell phone, I get a download twice a day that tells me exactly where all these animals are. Which means our guys on the ground can go and look at reproductive success. We’ve had two offspring born in the wild. What that means is the animals are getting everything they need to survive and thrive. There obviously is a biological reason of why we want to re-introduce these animals, but there also is a human aspect. You can certainly see the people’s eyes
light up. For the younger generation, they have never
seen this animal. The fact that it’s back in the wild in their
area, it’s come full circle. I’ve worked with oryx for over thirty years, and to be able to put them back in their native habitat is just, is a dream come true. I’m optimistic because we’re in the process of re-introducing an animal that was formerly extinct in the wild to at least a portion of its range. We’re going to have to be on the ground, helping the species survive and thrive for decades and decades to come. It’s not going to be easy, but somebody’s got to do it.

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