Following the recommendations from the World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy which aim to promote conservation in situ, that is, in the species' places of origin, Barcelona Zoo has been taking part since 2008, in collaboration with the CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), in an important project for re-introducing dorcas gazelles (Gazella dorcas) into one of the African countries the species originates from: Senegal.
Dorcas gazelles are a small ungulate typical of the large desert and subdesert extensions of North Africa, Arabia and the Middle East. The subspecies with members living in our Zoo, and which has been re-introduced to Senegal, is the Saharan dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas osiris), one of the most seriously endangered today. Fairly abundant up to the 1950s, it had always been hunted by the nomadic people who inhabit its extensive area of distribution and who ate its meat. However, once firearms and motor vehicles reached the area, these became the main factors for the spectacular fall in numbers.
Up to now, Barcelona Zoo has been taking part in this project as well as providing financial support, and contributing gazelles from its collection, from chosen genetic lines, along with technical and veterinary advice. In addition, and in the field of education, the Zoo has prepared and created information panels for the reception centre at the Reserve de la Faune de Guembeul, where the animals initially stay. After a period of adaptation, the dorcas gazelles are sent to the Réserve de Faune du Ferlo Nord, an extensive protected area covering over 6,000 km2, representative of the savannah bush typical of the Sahel region.
Barcelona Zoo’s participation in the conservation of the Sahel’s fauna will continue in future with the establishment of collaboration agreements with other research projects launched in the area by national and international institutions.