After decades spent close to extinction, the Arabian oryx has been successfully returned to the wild in Saudi Arabia.
Hunting and capture has led to a precarious future for the animal, which is native to the Arabian peninsula.
Saudi conservationists have worked hard to preserve oryx numbers in captivity with a view to releasing them into the wild.
Now 1,200 of the animals are to be returned to their natural habitat, Arab News cited Ahmed Al Bouq, the supervisor of the kingdom’s National Centre for Wildlife Development, as saying.
About 7,000 currently in captivity are set to be returned to three regions in the kingdom in future campaigns.
Mr Al Bouq said the Arabian oryx, one of four species of oryx in the world, was part of the region’s identity.
“In the past years, the National Centre for Wildlife Development succeeded in the relocation programmes they launched, thanks to the Saudi experts and their partners in the region,” he said.
“That resulted in reducing the extinction levels.”
Due to thousands of years living in deserts, the Arabian oryx has adapted to cope with harsh, dry environments, with its white coat reflecting heat and to help lower its body temperature.
It can change its body temperature from 36°C to 44°C, helping it adapt to the hot and cold temperatures of the desert.
Dark marks on its face and legs that make it appear larger than other desert predators, such as wolves, to help deter attacks.
Its almost straight, sharp horns mean it can protect itself against hunting dogs, Mr Al Bouq told Arab News.
In 2013, the animal’s classification was changed to vulnerable, he said.
“We currently seek to revert it to 'least concern' in order to make the species widespread, and such efforts are rare at the international level,” he said.