The Addax (Addax nasomaculatus) is the most threatened ungulate in the Sahelo-Saharan region and quite possibly the world.
The last viable population in the wild is located in eastern Niger in and around the Termit & Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve the region of Termit-Tin Toumma-Agadem.
The last estimate of this population, based on an aerial survey carried out in 2007, was less than 200 individuals. Up until 2010, the Addax Monitoring Programme carried out in the Termit & Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve indicated a population that was more or less stable, however, the two major developments have recently and dramatically altered the situation in the Addax's range in Niger.
The first concerns oil prospection and exploitation underway in Addax range in the deserts of eastern Niger. Secondly, the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011 sparked a massive exodus of people who returned home to Niger and neighboring countries, many with arms and four-wheel drive vehicles.
As a result, human presence and activities, both legal and illegal, in the Termit & Tin Toumma Reserve have increased tremendously over the past 2-3 years.
The decline in Addax sightings can clearly be attributed to disturbance from oil exploration and increased levels of poaching by both the armed forces and members of the local community.
In response to this dramatic situation, the project team's strategy is to tackle the problem on three inter-related levels.
Firstly, the team must locate the remaining Addax and assess their status.
Secondly, the team must boost ongoing efforts to build the capacity of Niger's wildlife service to protect the Addax and manage the Termit & Tin Toumma Reserve; and this in close collaboration with the local population.
And lastly, the project team must engage the Niger and Chinese authorities in bringing illegal hunting under control and minimizing the impact of oil-related activities, especially on prime Addax habitat.
In this context, the first activity to carry out with project related government partners is a wide-ranging ground and aerial survey inside the reserve and elsewhere, including the Niger-Chad border area, to locate any remaining Addax.
While the long term goal is to see Addax restored to healthy, self-sustaining populations within their preferred range, more immediate goals must focus on preserving the remaining wild population through a mixture of activities, including protection against illegal off-take and efforts to secure its preferred habitats in the reserve and its periphery.
The immediate goal of this proposal is to locate the remaining Addax and implement priority actions to conserve the species in its last stronghold.
Finally, the main outcome is to stabilize the remaining Addax population and minimize the threats from human activities.