Addax (Addax nasomaculatus)

French: Antilope Blanche
GenusAddax (1)
SizeShoulder height: 95 - 115 cm (2)
Body length: 110 - 130 cm (2)
Weight60 - 125 kg (2)

The Addax is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1). Listed on Appendix I of CITES (3) and Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (4).

The Addax (Addax nasomaculatus) is a desert living antelope and is well adapted to its harsh habitat; the hooves are splayed to enable them to travel on sand (5), and these antelope produce highly concentrated urine as a method of conserving water (6). The short, glossy coat is a grey-brown colour in the winter, fading to almost white during the summer months (5). The underparts, rump, limbs, chin, lips and inside of the ears are white, as is the x-shaped blaze on the face (7). There is a tuft of dark hair on the forehead and the horns are long and twisted in both sexes (2).

Once found across northern Africa, on both sides of the Sahara (7), from the west to the east. Addax populations exist today in a mere fragment of the former range in Niger, Chad, and possibly along the border between Mali and Mauritania (8) (9).

The addax inhabits sand and stony desert regions (8).

These antelope are mainly active during the night, particularly in the hot season; in the day, they dig 'beds' into the sand under shade to avoid the heat of the desert sun (2), and also to shelter from sandstorms (10). Small nomadic herds spend most of their time wandering in search of food (5); these previously numbered around 20 individuals but today groups are only two to four strong and lone individuals are also seen (6). When the population was more abundant, these antelope migrated seasonally between the Sahara and the Sahel and aggregations of 1,000 individuals were seen (7). The herds are led by a dominant male and breeding can occur all year round (5). Males defend territories and mate with more than one female. Usually a single young is born and is fully weaned at around a month old (5). In captivity, addax can live up to 25 years (5).

Addax feed on desert grasses, but will also browse on herbs and acacia species if grass is unavailable (8). Addax are able to obtain all the water they need from their food and their range is therefore not generally restricted by available water sources (5).

The population of addax is today a mere fraction of what it once was and this dramatic decrease is mainly attributed to over-hunting. These slow-moving animals provide easy targets, particularly with motorized vehicles and automatic weapons, and their meat and leather are prized by local people (8). Other factors involved in the decline include desertification, drought and habitat encroachment by pastoral expansion and subsistence agriculture (5) (10). It is estimated that fewer than five hundred individuals survive in the wild today, with the bulk of these lying between the Termit area of Niger and the Bodélé region of Western Chad (9).

The addax is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), thus prohibiting international trade (3). Provided effective protection is granted for the last remaining pockets of populations, it is possible that the species can increase. With this in mind, the Sahara Conservation Fund has developed a regional strategy that when implemented will protect the remaining wild populations and facilitate the recolonisation of neighbouring suitable habitats (10). A protected population exists in the Yotvata Hai-Bar (Wildlife Preserve) Nature Reserve in Israel, to the north of Elat (11). The reserve was set up in 1968 with the view to bolster populations of endangered desert species (12). In Niger, a vast protected area is being established in the Termit region to protect the largest remaining addax population in the wild (10). There are currently around 2,000 individuals in captive populations around the world and these are being used in reintroduction programmes for the species in Tunisia and Morocco (7) (13) (14).

For more information on the addax:

Authenticated (18/05/2006) by John Newby, Director of the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF).

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2008)
  2. Ultimate Ungulate (July, 2002)
  3. CITES (March, 2008)
  4. Global Register of Migratory Species (March, 2008)
  5. Animal Diversity Web (July, 2002)$narrative.html
  6. Burnie, D. (2001) Animals. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  7. Alden, P.C. (1996) Field Guide to African Wildlife. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
  8. Animal Info (July, 2002)
  9. UNEP-WCMC database (July, 2002)
  10. Newby, J.E. (2006) Pers. comm.
  11. Hai-Bar (Wildlife Preserve) Nature Reserve (August, 2002)
  12. Tal, A. (2002) Pollution in a Promised Land: an Environmental History of Israel. University of California Press, USA.
  13. Spevak, E., Gilbert, T., Engel, H., Correll, T. and Houston, B. (2006) Returning the addax and the oryx to Tunisia. Communiqué, American Zoo and Aquarium Association, 2006: 13 - 14.
  14. Woodfine, T., Gilbert, T. and Engel, H. (2004) A summary of past and present initiatives for the conservation and reintroduction of addax and scimitar-horned oryx in North Africa. Proceedings of the EAZA 2004 Conference, Kolmarden. EAZA Executive Office, Amsterdam.