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Back from the Brink – The Scimitar-horned Oryx reintroduction spreads hope at the IUCN Congress


The Scimitar-horned Oryx reintroduction spreads hope at the IUCN Congress.jpg

Abu Dhabi, September 10, 2016: A delegation from the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), led by Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD's Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, joined thought leaders in the world of conservation at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress 2016 which is being held in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii in the United States of America from 1st to 10th September. 


The IUCN World Conservation Congress, which takes place every four years, brings together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from the government sector, civil society, indigenous peoples, businesses, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and developing solutions to global challenges. The Congress aims to improve how we manage our natural environment for human, social and economic development, but this cannot be achieved by conservationists alone. The theme for the Congress 'Planet at the Crossroads' highlights the urgency of actions to be taken by all to implement the Sustainable  Development goals agreed by more than 200 countries in 2015.


On the 5th of September, EAD conducted a workshop along with its partners to showcase the Agency's efforts to reintroduce the Scimitar-horned Oryx into their native habitat in Chad which is possibly one of the world's most ambitious mammalian species reintroductions ever attempted. The initiative, inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan's legacy and efforts to protect endangered species and sustain them in their natural habitat, is being implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Chad and aims to achieve a self-sustaining population of nearly 500 individuals in the next 5 years.

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri spoke at the workshop along with other EAD experts attending the Congress. Partners in this project include the Government of Chad, the Sahara Conservation Fund, the Smithsonian Institute and the Zoological Society of London. The workshop focused on Scimitar-horned Oryx conservation efforts to date and management of future threats to the new wild population to ensure that this magnificent species has a safe habitat in which it can roam freely, ultimately changing its status in the IUCN Red List, from its current listing as extinct in the wild.

'The Scimitar-horned Oryx reintroduction is a selfless act by the Abu Dhabi government to reintroduce a species in another country' said Dr. Axel Moeherenschlager, Chairman of IUCN Reintroduction Specialist Group and Director of Conservation & Science at Calgary Zoological Society.

Dr Al Dhaheri also delivered a presentation at the 'Aligning Conservation Translocation Session' on the IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions and other Conservation Translocations 2013. These guidelines were developed by the IUCN Re-introduction Specialist Group to provide best practice for moving animals and plants from one place to another for conservation. Guidelines were translated by EAD to Arabic as part of the Agency's support to the IUCN Re-introduction Specialist Group for biodiversity restoration and support the mission and objectives of the IUCN at the global level.

The EAD co-sponsored a motion on electrocution of migratory birds, which was also successfully passed during the Congress. 'Thousands of migratory birds are electrocuted every year and EAD's studies in Mongolia highlighted the mortality of Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, a globally endangered species due to power lines' said Dr Salim Javed, Acting Director - Terrestrial Biodiversity at EAD.  'The motion was supported by leading international conservation organisations and associations' he added.


EAD is a member of IUCN, and a framework partner along with the countries of Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, France, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. The IUCN World Conservation Congress is the world's largest and most important conservation event in the world.


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