By 1972, humans had hunted and poached the Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) to extinction in the wild. However, with hard work and international collaboration, conservation organizations, zoos, and governments were able to come together and create a ‘world herd,’ bringing this species back from the brink.
While the habitat for the Arabian Oryx was protected, overhunting pressure remained a concern. By the 1980s, tentative releases were organized, and by 1996, population levels had rebounded to more than 300—until hunting again reduced the herds to a mere 100 wild Oryx. It was through concerted efforts at regulation and protection that the species survived.
Today, Arabian Oryx populations are closely monitored and, in many countries, guarded in reserves and parks. Since the inception of Operation Oryx, their conservation status has been upgraded to Vulnerable and their genetic diversity is approaching the global average. The Arabian Oryx conservation project stands as a model for the restoration and preservation of other Endangered species.
It is only through the combined efforts of government leaders, researchers, and wildlife advocates that the Arabian Oryx again roam the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. Photographer Dan Newton captured this image of a wild herd in the United Arab Emirates, at the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, using photography to spark crucial conversations about the importance of conserving our planet's biodiversity.