Conservation officials in Jordan have introduced 20 Arabian oryx sent from Abu Dhabi into a nature reserve to help revive the species in the kingdom.
The 15 males and five females were released in the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve on the edge of the now vanished oasis of Al Azraq, 110 kilometres east of Amman, on Sunday.
Khaled Irani, head of the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conversation of Nature, said the oryx was the “symbol of the Arabian desert” and that Jordan hoped to build a “sustainable herd” with support from the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme.
The Emirates has been at the forefront of efforts to save the animal in the region. The UAE's oryx population numbers about 10,000 and it has contributed most of the 110 oryx at the Jordanian reserve.
Conservation officials from Jordan and the UAE were at the reserve for the release of the 20 new arrivals.
Mr Irani said they would breed with the existing herd at the reserve.
“The results will be studied,” he said.
The 22 square kilometre Shaumari reserve was founded in 1975 when the Azraq lake had water.
The wetland has almost disappeared, along with the migratory birds and other animals once drawn to its waters, because of excessive extraction of groundwater for farming in Jordan and Syria.