In order to restore and maintain gazelle and antelope populations in the Sahara and the Sahel, an Action Plan was adopted in 1998 by all 14 range states under the auspices of CMS. This tailored instrument provides a framework for governments, NGOs, scientists, local people and the wider international community to collaborate in the conservation of the most threatened antelope and gazelle populations in Northern Africa. The Action Plan covers six CMS Appendix I species in total, with five being endemic to the region: Addax (Addax nasomaculatus), Cuvier's Gazelle (Gazella cuvieri), Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama), Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah) and Slender-horned Gazelle (Gazella leptoceros), as well as the wider ranging Dorcas Gazelle (Gazella dorcas). The Action Plan is currently being updated under the chairmanship of the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group, funding is kindly provided by the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Conservation Enhancement Fund. It is proposed that the Red-fronted Gazelle (Eurdorcas rufifrons) added on Appendix I at COP11 and the Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia, Appendix II) will be added to the updated Action Plan. The Action Plan benefits from close collaboration with Noé, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (IRSNB) and the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF).
Overhunting and habitat degradation, including competition with domestic livestock, are the primary threats to large herbivores in North Africa. The Scimitar-horned Oryx has as a result already gone extinct in the wild. The last confirmed sightings were in Niger in 1988. The situation for Addax and Dama Gazelle is marginally better, only a few hundred individuals of each species remain in fragmented herds in Niger and Chad. The Slender-horned and Cuvier's Gazelles are Endangered, with less than a few thousand remaining in the wild, possibly even a few hundreds in the case of the Slender-horned Gazelle. Dorcas Gazelle populations are larger but also declining fast in North Africa. All species covered by the CMS Action Plan suffer from a lack of accurate monitoring data for the entire range.
The Action Plan for the conservation and restoration of the Sahelo-Saharan antelopes (which includes the four gazelle species) and their habitats provides a road map for all stakeholders to conserve populations and habitats across their range. It comprises the three following main objectives:
Since 1994 CMS Parties and range states continue to regularly review the status and conservation needs of large mammals in North Africa. In the framework of the Action Plan on Sahelo-Saharan Antelopes there have been a number of range state meetings and projects, including larger ones funded by France and the EU. As a result status reports have been compiled, the Action Plan regularly updated and most importantly, conservation action conducted in range states. In 2007, for example, Oryx and Addax were reintroduced in Tunisia where they remain under strict management in several protected areas today. More recently, the largest protected area in Africa has been set up in eastern Niger to secure the last stronghold of the Addax in the Termit and Tin Toumma regions.
The Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) contributes significantly to the implementation and goals of the Action Plan through its projects and programmes in Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Chad and Niger. In situ conservation priorities include Addax (Niger, Chad), Dama Gazelles (Niger, Chad), Dorcas Gazelles and large bustards (Chad), as well as reintroductions of species such as the Addax and Oryx (Tunisia, Senegal, Chad). Furthermore, SCF’s Pan Sahara Wildlife Survey has carried out wildlife and habitat monitoring at many sites in Tunisia, Chad and Niger, providing for the first time in decades an up-to-date assessment of the conservation status of many species, including those listed under CMS Appendix I.
Since 2013 Noé Conservation has contributed to the CMS Action Plan through its project in the Termit and Tin-Toumma Natural National Reserve in Niger. Noé focuses on setting up participative governance structures in the new reserve, primarily through reinforcement of local capacities. This project is conducted in close cooperation with local environmental authorities, with institutional and financial support from SCF, and financial support from AFD (Agence Française de Développement) and the Région Ile de France.