Saudi: Oryx walk the sands of Neom after nearly 100 years
Saudi Arabia has returned oryx, ibex, sand gazelles and mountain gazelles to the desert in Neom.
The animals arrived from the National Centre for Wildlife in Riyadh in late October.
After spending time in special pens to acclimatise to their new environment, the animals were released into the nature reserve.
“The wildlife release was a historical moment. This is the first time that an oryx has walked the sands of Neom in nearly 100 years,” said Paul Marshall, head of the Neom Nature Reserve.
This is a key first step in Neom’s plans to contribute to conservation, a press release said.
The reserve aims to host one of the largest rewilding programmes ― conservation efforts to restore and protect natural processes and wilderness areas.
“We will be able to preserve 95 per cent of Neom’s land and sea for nature, and implement a science-based programme of protection, restoration, and rewilding,” Dr Marshall said.
The arrival of the animals is the first stage of Neom’s wider nature restoration effort, including a major regreening initiative to restore wildlife, reintroduce rare or locally near-extinct wildlife species, and ensure the protection of wildlife from illegal hunting.