Dama Gazelle Conservation and Research Programme
The elegant Dama Gazelle is the largest Gazelle species in the world. Once found across a vast area of the Sahara and Sahel, it has disappeared from more than 99% of its former range due to uncontrolled hunting, habitat loss and overgrazing. There are now less than 100 Dama Gazelles left in the wild, isolated in four tiny populations, making it Critically Endangered. It is now one of the world’s most endangered mammal species. Al Ain Zoo has made the Dama Gazelle one of its conservation priorities and we are part of the international efforts to save it from extinction. A variety of conservation efforts are needed, including:
We have a globally important breeding population of more than 80 Dama Gazelles. We are the only zoo in the world to have different subspecies of Addra and Mhorr Gazelle, which differ in their coat patterns.
Educating and Raising Awareness
The Dama Gazelle is the first species you see when you walk into the zoo. Zoo exhibits are used as focal points for educating our visitors about endangered species and inspiring the next generation of conservationists.
Supporting in situ Conservation and Research
Since 2013, we have been supporting the efforts of the Sahara Conservation Fund to conserve the largest remaining wild population of Dama Gazelles. This includes camera-trapping surveys and working with local rangers to track and protect the Dama Gazelle.
We are carrying out important research on Dama Gazelle breeding that focuses on looking at whether the different subspecies, Addra and Mhorr, can produce healthy offspring if bred together. The results will be important to future conservation actions such as reintroductions.
We are collaborating with the Royal Zoological Society Scotland and other international partners to map the genetic diversity of the Dama Gazelle across the globe, both in the wild and in zoos. This will enhance population management and improve its long-term chances of survival.
Decisive action is needed in extreme situations such as the one facing the Dama Gazelle where extinction in the wild is highly likely and imminent. In 2013, we participated in the first conservation planning workshop hosted by the Royal Zoological Society Scotland in Edinburgh to share information, identify knowledge gaps and discuss priorities for Dama Gazelle conservation and research.
Five years later, we hosted a follow-up workshop with a wide group of international experts. Achievements since 2013 were reviewed and priority conservation actions were agreed. The results of this workshop were published in the Dama Gazelle Conservation Strategy 2019-2028, available below in English and French for free.
Dama Gazelle Conservation Strategy 2019-2028