Biblical antelope making comeback in Jordanian desert

WADI RUM, Jordan (ANS) — Several endangered species are making a comeback in the Holy Land, including biblical animals, the latest of which is the oryx antelope first referenced in Deuteronomy 14 as clean to eat.

According to a report from the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, the oryx has been extinct in the wild deserts of Israel and Jordan for more than 80 years, but 20 Arabian Oryxs—bred at a special animal park in Abu Dhabi—were flown in to Jordan in early August and released at the 278 square mile Wadi Rum Protected Area near the Arava Valley and Dead Sea.

Jordan and Abu Dhabi's cooperative project to repopulate the species has been met with great enthusiasm by government officials, embassy officials added.

"This is a success story," said Mohammed Al Bawardi, secretary general of the Abu Dhabi executive council.

"The best outcome would be for the release of this base population to add the value of an animal lost over the years back to the area."

Embassy officials said the effort also encompasses habitat rehabilitation and educational programs for the local people.

Although there are no wild oryx's in Israel's Negev desert, the officials are hopeful that as the Jordanian herds increase, some will wander over the border.

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