Species Survival Plan
Desert grasses, shrubs
Originally Native To
Niger, Mauritania, Chad, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Western Sahara
45 inches at shoulder
Male 300 lb.
Female 250 lb.
Antelope with spiraling horns up to 3 feet in length on both sexes; white X-shaped facial blaze; dark “toupee”
8.5 - 9 months
February - May
Captivity 20 years
Nomadic groups of 2 - 20 led by dominant male
ABOUT THE ADDAX
There are less than 100 addax in the wild. Addax once ranged from the Atlantic to the Nile River on both sides of the Sahara. Uncontrolled hunting reduced the species to living in only a few remote areas of sand dunes in the desert, as the addax has a population classification of Critically Endangered with a decreasing population trend.
Other contributing factors are prolonged droughts and regional wars. They are now restricted to isolated populations in Niger, Chad, and Mauritania, as they suffer from poaching and disturbance due to oil exploration.
The addax is the most desert-adapted African antelope. This will prove true on a sweltering summer afternoon at Fossil Rim, when the addax might be one of the only animals that will approach vehicles with no regard for the temperature that has other species retreating to shade.
Addax have shorter legs than most antelope, which give them a low center of gravity and keep them steady – even on shifting desert sands. A stocky build and those sturdy, short legs give the addax endurance but not speed. Their hooves are broad and rounded for sandy terrain.
The summer coat of addax is white to reflect the sun’s heat, while their winter coat of darker tan absorbs the sun’s heat. A dark brown forehead tuft has been called a “toupée” by some.
They are nomadic, following the infrequent rains, and travel considerable distances in search of food. While other antelope of North Africa, such as the scimitar-horned oryx, penetrate the central Sahara after rainfall has made the desert bloom, only the addax and slender-horned gazelle live there in all seasons.
Wild addax are principally nocturnal and do most of their eating in the evening, while resting during the heat of the day. An addax can obtain all of its water from the plants it eats and by collecting dew off of the plants. Other adaptations for desert life include conserving water by excreting dry feces and concentrated urine, plus an ability to tolerate a rise of daytime body temperature by as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit before resorting to nasal panting to cool down.
The addax’s most-striking feature is its long, corkscrew horns. Male addax can reach 300 pounds and 45 inches at the shoulder. Females are nearly as tall and only 10-20 percent lighter, while their horns are thinner than the male’s but just as long.
The birth season for addax is February to May, as the mother will give birth to one calf. An addax can reach 20 years in captivity, while the wild lifespan is unknown.
In the mid-1980s, captive-bred addax from the Hanover Zoo in Germany were reintroduced to a park in Tunisia. Being a founding member of the SSP (Species Survival Plan) for addax, Fossil Rim contributed animals in 2007 to the release program and completed extensive behavioral and DNA research projects that should continue to benefit both captive and wild addax.
In January 2020, an addax reintroduction project in Chad – led by the Sahara Conservation Fund and assisted by two Fossil Rim staff members – got underway, as the first 15 addax were released into the wild wearing satellite collars so their movements can be tracked. Those numbers had grown to 50 addax by the end of 2020.
Fossil Rim had produced more than 700 addax as of 2020. Look for addax in the Main Pasture – the third pasture you enter from the Admission Center.
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ANYTHING YOU GIVE HELPS THE ANIMALS
As a private nonprofit corporation, Fossil Rim does not receive national or state government support. Every cent spent or donated here goes in some way, directly or indirectly, toward the care of our animals.