On Wednesday, 10 March
1999, a series of unusual loads travelled through
several parts of Europe: from seven zoos in six European
countries lorries transported captive-bred Antelopes to
Ostende in Belgium. 14 Scimitar-horned Oryx and 2 Slender-horned
Gazelles, will be flown on Thursday evening, 11 March 1999
in a Boeing 707 to the island of Djerba, Tunisia. From there,
the animals will be taken to the Sidi Toui National Park
in the desert region of Southern Tunisia.
These animals will form the ground stock for
the recovery of wild populations of these endangered species.
Initially they will be kept in fenced-in areas where they
are expected to reproduce, according to Tunisian and international
Antelope specialists. When their numbers have reached a
sufficient level, they will be released back into the desert
areas which constitute their home habitat. In the meantime,
a plan to educate local populations to coexist with the
Antelopes will be put into force.
All efforts are being made for a safe and
comfortable journey of the animals. Two wardens and a veterinarian
will accompany them during the transport from Ostende to
their destination in Tunisia and, thereafter, two experts
will survey the animals’ one month quarantine and re-adaptation
to their new surrounding. During this 5 month period they
will train local staff of the National Park and run a scientific
study to provide useful advice for future ventures of the
The Executive Secretary of the Bonn Convention
on Migratory Species, who coordinated the activities from
his office in Bonn, Germany, stated that it will be an even
greater challenge for the world community to prove that
it can be as effective in re-establishing wild animals and
their ecosystems as men have been in their destruction.
Also, he notes that the conservation of animal and plant
species in their natural surroundings would be much cheaper
and easier than their re-establishment after extinction.
He expressed his admiration for the dedicated people who
invested more than a year of intensive organisation and
preparation to transfer this venture into action.
For more information please contact:
UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Martin-Luther-King-Str.
8, D-53175 Bonn, Germany
Tel.: +49 228-815-2401; Fax: +49 228-815-2449
E-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/cms
This venture is part of an overall Action
Plan which the governments of 14 Sahelo-Saharan states,
together with internationally reputed specialists, inter
alia from IUCN and WWF International have elaborated
under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention)
in order to reestablish viable populations of six Antelope
species in an area which is larger than the entire continent
Actually the six Antelope species which were
quite common in the region until approximately three decades
ago have been almost completely eliminated through over-hunting,
overstocking with live-stock, degradation of landscape and
other human-related activities. It will be a challenge to
revert this trend and to refill the region with the animals
which are well-adapted to the climate and their surroundings
and which could again become a major tool for economic development
in the entire region. Actually Antelopes have proven to
support the recovery of vegetation, whereas goats, sheep,
livestock and camels have the reputation of destroying it.
Antelopes could become an incentive for reestablishing tourism,
including hunting tourism if the reestablishment of viable
antelope populations proves to be successful in the future.
The names of the six Antelope species some
of which are extinct in the wild and others have become
extremely rare, are:
addax au nez tacheté
gazelle de Cuvier
The Zoological Gardens which contribute to
the release of captive bred animals are:
Bratislava zoo in Slovakia,
Dvur Kralove zoo in the Czech Republic,
Paris zoo, France,
La Palmire, France
Parco Faunistico Le Cornelle, Italy
Zoo Leipzig, Germany
Zoo Plankendael, Flemish region, Belgium.
Belgium plays a major role in the current
venture: The Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de
Belgique (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science)
elaborated the Recovery Action Plan and the Flemish Environment
Ministry provides the funds for the transport and release
of the 16 Antelopes.
A number of Zoos in Europe have established
a network for captive breeding activities, the European
Endangered Species Programme (EEP). Already in former
years release of captive bred Antelopes had been organised,
especially in Tunisia and Morocco, with very good success.
The Bonn Convention is a United Nations-based
global convention aiming at the conservation and management
of animal species which migrate over long distances thus
crossing national borders. These species require the coordinated
and concerted action of countries through which the animals
migrate. The Secretariat of the Convention is located in
Bonn, Germany. It is co-located with the Secretariats of
the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention
to Combat Desertification. This year, on 23 June, the Convention
celebrates the 20th anniversary of its signing
on 23 June 1999. CMS provides coordinated conservation,
inter alia for a large variety of migratory species
including waterbirds (such as cranes, storks, swans, geese
and flamingos), marine turtles, dolphins, small whales and
bats. Approximately 10,000 species worldwide are migratory.