This intriguing creature is one of the world’s rarest mammals. Unfortunately, due to relentless hunting for food and leather by humans, there may be fewer than 300 Addax remaining in the wild and that number is decreasing. This is one of a number of species where the numbers in captivity throughout the world exceed the number living in the wild.
Addax are under great threat in the wild. They are classed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN red list). They used to be found in all countries sharing the Sahara Desert but, due to hunting and loss of habitat, the only known population remains in the Termit/Tin Toumma region of Niger.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is part of an international breeding program to help save this species from extinction.
Addax are nocturnal and crepuscular (active at twilight or just before sunrise) so they rest during the heat of the day.
They are typically found in sandy and stony regions of the Sahara Desert – especially in protected dune regions, where motorised transport has difficulty traversing. Addax have broad, flat hooves with flat soles that prevent them from sinking into the desert sand.
Addax herds typically consist of five to 20 individuals, led by one dominant male. Female herd members establish their own dominance hierarchy, with the oldest individuals achieving the highest rank. It should be noted that this group structure is not standard any more due to their near extinction in the wild. Most Addax now travel in small clusters of only a few individuals.