SPAIN is pioneering the re-introduction of a highly threatened species of gazelle in Mauritania, north Africa.
The species, known as the Dama Gazelle, has been bred and protected by the Estacion Experimental de Zonas Aridas (EZAA) in a conservation project in Spain since a few of the endangered animals were purchased in Mauritania. At the time Mauritania was known as Spanish Sahara.
The gazelles were shipped to Spain by Jose Antonio Valverde, a well-known conservationist and founder of Parque Nacional Doñana, Andalucia’s most famous national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Now two male gazelles and four females are set to be taken from Spain to Mauritania, in co-operation with the Mauritanian government, and released.
It is hoped that the group will breed and form the centre of a new population in the Sahara. There are currently thought to be less than 500 Dama Gazelles remaining in the wild, and they are extinct in Mauritania and most of their former range.