The last Mhorr Gazelle in the Bou Hedma National Park died this year making the species effectively extinct Tunisia.
The Mhorr or Mohor Gazelle (Nanger dama mhorr) is endemic to Northern Africa but went extinct in the wild some decades ago. Since the 1980s, a number of reintroduction or introduction projects have been attempted – in Senegal, Tunisia and Morocco – with varying degree of success.
In early 1990s, Tunisia initiated the (re)introduction of the species into the Bou Hedma National Park. In 1994, 14 gazelles were brought from the ‘Experimental Station of Arid Zones’ (EEZA) in Almeria (Spain) and released in the park. This group joined a few other gazelles which were released in the park earlier (see chart).
The population growth was slow but steady which generated some hopes that the species can be saved in Tunisia.
However, an alarming decline of the population ensued and by 2011 the species become “functionally extinct” as all females have disappeared and only three males were present. This was reduced to just one male by the end of 2016.
The inevitable happened in early 2020 with the death of the last male in the National Park announced the ‘Tunisia Wildlife Conservation Society’ (TWCS) two weeks ago. It should be noted that the TWCS already sounded the alarm some years ago but to no avail.
This is another example of a failed reintroduction project. It’s nevertheless an experience that should be analysed to pinpoint what went wrong in order to avoid making the same mistakes in future projects not only in Tunisia but elsewhere as well.
The TWCS can be contacted through their Facebook page.