Endangered Species Saved by Captive Programs

Many animals have been saved from extinction by captive breeding programs. A creature of the desert, the Arabian oryx, became extinct in the wild in 1972. It has symbolic significance for Arabian people. Individual animals were brought together from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

A watershed occurred in 1982 when some oryx were released into the wild. By 2011 the number of wild oryx reached more than 1,000. The species is no longer endangered. It is now classed as vulnerable.

Much has been learned from this successful intervention. This has been done before. In the 19th century the American bison was saved. Today there are 30,000 in the wild and another 30,000 have been bred for meat.

In Australia only 50 helmeted honeyeaters were alive in 1990. The Healesville Sanctuary has bred these birds releasing about 20 every year. Australia has adopted a policy of releasing endangered animals onto islands because cats and foxes easily kill native species. The greater stick-nest rat was saved in this way.
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