11 July 2019
Two delightful addax calves were born in Christchurch this week. The new arrivals are thought to be the first of their species to be born in New Zealand!
Orana Wildlife Park joined the zoo-based breeding programme for this critically endangered species last year when male Marrakesh was introduced to females Sahara, Zola (the new mums) and Mali. The animals were transferred from Taronga Western Plains Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo, Australia.
Exotic Species Manager, Rachael Mason, says “this is a very exciting time for our team. The precious calves are healthy and extremely cute – some of our staff have melted at the sight of the beautiful babies! Both labours were smooth, with one calf even being born in the display habitat. Sahara and Zola, the first time mums, are extremely attentive and protective of their young. Marrakesh is a very proud dad and has been furiously running between the two calves.”
Addax are a critically endangered Saharan desert antelope with spectacular twisting horns. The species is on the verge of extinction in the wild; their wild population is estimated to be less than 100 animals due to uncontrolled hunting, poaching plus disturbance from oil exploration. Although rare in the wild, addax are more common in captivity. Approximately 800 are held in zoos around the world in managed breeding programmes. Addax have been successfully reintroduced to protected areas within National Parks in Tunisia and Morocco.
“It is a privilege for us to hold such rare animals. The calves alter the dynamics of the herd, which is something very positive for the addax and the public. The calves provide people with a great opportunity to see and learn about one of the world’s rarest antelope species” concludes Rachael.
• Classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN, numbering less than 100 in the wild.
• Addax are often considered one of the most well adapted antelope to survive in a desert setting. Their coat darkens in winter and lightens in summer as an efficient way of maintaining body temperature. They are mainly active at night; during the day they rest in depressions that they dig in the sand. Addax rarely need to drink as they get moisture from their food.
• Addax were formerly widespread in suitable habitats in all countries sharing the Sahara Desert.
• Addax are nomadic, wandering over large areas in search of grazing.
• Although large reserves in Algeria, Niger and Chad, cover areas where Addax previously occurred, some are under-resourced and only Niger still holds Addax.
• The addax was once abundant in North Africa native to Chad, Mauritania and Niger. It is extinct in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Western Sahara. It has been reintroduced in Morocco and Tunisia.
• One of the few antelope species where both male and female horns are of the same size, growing to 120cm.
About Orana Wildlife Park
Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open range zoo and is home to over 400 animals from more than 70 different species including New Zealand’s only gorillas and the country’s only orang-utans. The Park is owned and operated by Orana Wildlife Trust, a registered charitable trust. The Trust is committed to the conservation of wildlife diversity on this planet. Our aims, along with being dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and the welfare of our animals, are to provide education, recreation and enjoyment to the public and to support research relating to endangered animals. The Trust is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) and ZAA NZ.