More than 60 rhim gazelles, also known as slender-horned gazelles, have died from hunger at the Sawa reserve in Iraq. “They no longer have a supply of food because we didn’t receive the necessary funds (from the government),” Turki al-Jayashi, director of the Sawa reserve, said.
“The climate has also strongly affected the gazelles,” which lack vegetation in the desert-like region, Turki added. President Barham Salih said that tackling climate change “must become a national priority for Iraq as it is an existential threat to the future of our generations to come”.
Rhim gazelles have gently curved horns and sand-colored coats. The animals are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Outside Iraq’s reserves, rhim gazelles are mostly found in the deserts of Libya, Egypt and Algeria, but there are only a few hundred left, according to the IUCN.
Summer has not yet begun, but temperatures are already reaching over 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in parts of Iraq. “Water scarcity negatively affects all our regions. It will lead to reduced fertility of our agricultural lands because of salination,” Salih said.
Salih has sent 100 million dinars (over $68,000) to help save the Sawa reserve’s rhim gazelles, Turki said, but the money came too late for some animals.