A stocky-bodied, medium sized antelope with long, gently spiraled horns. The Addax has a dark crown and forehead above a white chevron which runs across the bridge of the muzzle and around the eyes. Throat and chest are beige and the remainder of body is dull white.
Horns of the male are stockier and heavier than the female, often having 2 to 2½ turns, to female’s 1 ½ turns. Males have a slightly larger weight and size.
Habitat and Distribution
Addax are at home in the worlds’ largest desert, the Sahara, where they have a preference for the flat, hard- packed, sand regions. Once widely distributed across the vast sub Saharan expanse, only about 300 Addax now survive in Chad and Niger.
Hunting, mainly, along with drought and the extension of farming into desert lands has devastated the Addax. The species has attracted relatively limited conservation interest and more recent declarations of protected reserves in all range states has come too late.
Providing effective protection of the last wild Addax will be difficult because of the remoteness and inaccessibility of most of their refuges. A future for preventing the species’ extinction may depend on reintroduction of captive-bred animals to securely protected areas. The release of 14 zoo bred Addax (from Hannover Zoo, Germany and the San Diego Zoo, USA ) into wild habitat first occurred in Tunisia’s Bou Hedma National Park in the mid-1980s. This population, which had increased to 50 in 1997, is in a region where Addax had not been seen for decades. In 1994-97, a coalition of European zoos supplied ~75 Addax for release into Souss-Massa National Park, Morocco. By the beginning of 2004, Bou Hedma had 70 Addax that could be used to seed additional parks. As a result of the 2007 reintroduction, zoo-born Addax are now repopulating Djebil National Park.
A group composed primarily of zoos from around the world has formed a conservation organization called the Sahara Conservation Fund http://saharaconservation.org/ to lead conservation action in this region.
Addax graze on desert grasses and succulents. During the hot season when fodder is depleted they will move towards the desert steppe to browse on shrubs and trees. After rains they will feed on ephemeral pastures called jizu or eshoob.
Breeding and Lifecycle
Addax generally live in small herds (2 to 15 animals) that wander nomadically over vast areas in search of grazing plants. Herds are led by an adult cow and composed of multi-aged females and males. Addax can breed at any time of the year although reproduction is determined by environmental conditions – poor conditions can result in loss of young or no breeding. Addax have a single calf, usually born in the cool period between September and March, after a 9 month gestation. The calf is weaned at about 10 months of age and becomes independent after 2 years.
Reference: Newby, J. In: Kingdon, J.S. & Hoffman, M. (Eds) 2006. The Mammals of Africa Vol. 6.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association acknowledges Taronga Conservation Society Australia for providing the factsheet information above.