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Saving North African Antelopes: Friends of Animals' Priscilla Feral to Appear on CBS' 60 Minutes This Sunday

January 26, 2012 | Press Releases / Hunting & Wildlife Management / Free-Living Animals / Hunting Ranches

Darien, CT-Friends of Animals recently celebrated a victory for scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelles who are routinely bred and killed on hunting ranches here in the United States. These animals, on the brink of extinction in their native homelands in northern Africa, have been the targets of paying trophy hunters seeking a thrill-kill.


On 5 Jan. 2012, a new rule in the U.S. Federal Register was published, reflecting two decades of work by Friends of Animals to protect these antelope. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will now protect all members of these three species under the Endangered Species Act-including those bred on U.S. soil and sold for sport-hunting.

60 Minutes will recount the story -Hunting animals to save them?- of how these animals ended up on the verge of extinction, and how Friends of Animals, through its project in Senegal, is protecting these animals so they can recover their footing and freedom in their own habitat.

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"We're grateful that 60 Minutes is telling this landmark story," says Friends of Animals' president Priscilla Feral, who worked with "60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan in the late spring of 2011-recounting Friends of Animals' work on this project that began in 1999 with a trip to Senegal.

Friends of Animals, with the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law, sued the federal government to list the these antelopes as "endangered" under U.S. law. In September 2005, the FWS did list the three species as "endangered," noting that desertification, human encroachment, ranching, regional military activity, and hunting imperil these antelopes.

Yet on the same date, the FWS published an exception to the rule removing take and transport prohibitions from the very animals that the United States has the strongest power to protect-those kept by U.S. enterprises. The blanket exemption authorized killing, commercial transport, and interstate or foreign commerce-hence, allowing continued exploitation of these animals on hunting ranches.

A court case brought by Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians in 2009 challenged the loophole and secured a court order finding that the exemption violated Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. The judge call the blanket exemption "anathema" to the ESA, and in June 2009 remanded the rule to the FWS for the appropriate change.

Friends of Animals currently supports an increasing population of 175 oryxes (and dozens of dama gazelles) in northern Senegal within two, semi-desert reserves encompassing thousands of acres-and is committed to seeing these numbers grow.

"Even though this project is decades long, we're just beginning," says Feral. "We're committed to ensuring these animals thrive in freedom once again."

CBS' 60 Minutes airs Sunday 29 January 2012 at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. Check your local listings.


Friends of Animals, an advocacy organization founded in 1957, advocates for the right of animals to live free, on their own terms:


To FoA; I just have a quick question about this program you have in Senegal. I am simply wondering where it is that you obtained the oryx population that you did in order to reintroduce them into Africa- I don't suppose it was from one of these ranches that have been the only source of life for these animals and many more for the past several decades, since their native habitats have long since become hostile for them? Also, how do you expect the population to grow once more in its native habitat when it was this native habitat that previously brought the oryx to near extinction in the first place (after which the help of Texas ranchers was needed to regrow the population). Can you honestly argue that without the assistance of ranchers and hunters, these antelope species would be alive today? FoA comments: The "argument" that is escaping you is that FoA is against the exploitation of animals including the exploitation of individuals of a species to save a species. Where as hunting ranches are in the business of killing individuals -- not to save a species, but to make a buck.

I just saw the 60 minutes story tonight and I was seething with anger until you came on. Thank you, I agree with you totally. It's outrageous that ranchers should think they have a right to kill these animals for their personal profit. It's evil. It amazes me how they try to justify something that is so clearly wrong. I don't understand the mentality. If they were lucky enough to inherit land and are privileged, they should donate a portion of their land to giving back to the world and allowing these endangered species to come back from the brink of extinction, protected and safe on their land. Maybe they could get a tax break. What a privilege to be able to contribute in this way to the earth. What an honour. Animals DO NOT BELONG TO US. Their lives are their own. To look at them as property is wrong thinking. And to let them be born for the sole purpose of some hunter having the pleasure of killing them and making himself feel like a man, to prop up his shaky manhood is disgusting. REAL MEN ARE KIND TO ANIMALS. But of course these ignorant bastards don't know that. Please keep doing what you're doing...we have to beat back the barbarians with all their self-justifications. Sincerely, Celeste Watt

I am looking forward to watching these animals now become extinct in the United States, where they are now thriving and will soon decline with these new law, and also decline and exist no more in their past habitat. Despite your liberal attempts to do more "good" for these animals, you are destroying them and causing them more pain than ever. Hunters conserve wildlife and care about the outdoors across the country much more than people that do not venture outside their offices and homes. It appalls me that these beautiful animals will now slowly wither away in population in Texas because of your envisioned idea that you are helping them. FoA comments: You are confusing the term "species" -- an intellectual conceptualization with the term "animals" -- flesh and blood, feeling beings. Hunters kill animals for pleasure. Throughout evolutionary history, species come and go. That has always been and will always be the case. However, humans are more and more becoming responsible for the extinction of species. Hunting and environmental destruction is what is leading to the extinction of oryx. FoA has a program in Senegal that has reintroduced oryx into a protected sanctuary where the animals are not hunted -- protected from humans who would kill them for pleasure.