Photo of the Month: Addax

By Megan Runquist Holmstedt

Addax; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Status: This species (Addax nasomaculatus) is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due primarily to poaching and disturbance from oil exploration. The addax has lost 90% of its range over the past century and is in danger of imminent extinction in the wild. The total wild population is estimated to be fewer than 100 individuals; approximately 700 live in zoos across North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia.

Habitat: The addax is found in isolated regions of the Sahara Desert in Niger and Chad – areas with extreme temperatures and aridity that range from large sand dune systems to hard packed desert terrain. This antelope is nomadic with great stamina, wandering widely over large areas following rains, searching for vegetation, and resting in any existing shade. Until roughly 100 years ago, the addax was common throughout the Sahara region; since the 1960s, its numbers have plummeted and its habitat has dramatically declined.

Diet: These grazers eat primarily grasses, shrubs, shoots, and tubers. Adapted to unstable food supplies, they get most of their moisture from the plants they eat and can go for long periods without water.

Both sexes of this ungulate have long, heavily-ridged horns, and they are especially well-suited to life in the desert: among other adaptations, they do not pant or sweat until the temperature exceeds 113 degrees Fahrenheit, their light coats reflect heat and blend into the sandy surroundings, and their kidneys retain most of their ingested water.

Two male addax arrived at the L.A. Zoo in May of this year and were joined by an additional male in October; they are located next the Chacoan peccary exhibit.