The earth is over four billion years old, and in all that time, millions of animals have existed in different habitats.
Over the centuries, many of these animals either went extinct or evolved to adapt to the changing times.
As such, many animals that existed millions of years ago are nowhere to be found today.
In the same way, some animals still face extinction in this present age, and these animals are classified as threatened or endangered.
Algeria, officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a North African country home to different regions that house various animal species.
This article will focus on some of the endangered species in Algeria. Keep reading to discover them.
With the scientific name Addax nasomaculatus and also called the white antelope or screw-horn antelope, the addax is an antelope species native to parts of the Sahara Desert.
This animal is the only member of the Addax genus first described in the early 19th century.
Its name comes from Arabic, the language of the people that live in the area where it inhabits, and it means an animal with a crooked horn.
The addax is an antelope species best differentiated from others by its coat.
The color of this animal’s coat varies according to the seasons; in the winter, it is greyish-brown, while it turns blonde or almost white in the summer.
The weight of males varies between 220 and 276 pounds, and that of females from 130 to 200 pounds.
The addax is renowned for several other characteristics, including its curving, spiraling horns, which are as long as four feet, and a brown hair tuft that runs from the base of its horns to its eyes.
Historically, the addax’s range extended across most North African countries.
Now, it is extinct in most countries and classified as critically endangered in others, including Algeria, with fewer than 500 individuals in the wild.
The animal prefers to inhabit semideserts and other arid regions with less than 100mm annual rainfall.
Because of this, the addax can survive without water for long periods.
Also true to their preferred habitats, these animals feed on grasses, leaves, herbs, etc.
6. Barbary Macaque
Also known as the Barbary ape, the Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) is a species of an Old World monkey called the macaque, native to the Atlas Mountains that extend through some North African countries.
Aristotle first described this species in his work, History of Animals, describing them as having arms like a man, covered in hair.
Because of how old the Barbary macaque is, it is the most primitive macaque species and the closest to the macaques’ general ancestral form.
An adult Barbery macaque’s color changes with age, but these animals generally have a dark-pink face and fur that ranges between golden brown and gray.
Males weigh more than females, weighing between 32 and 35 pounds, while females average 22-24 pounds.
On its rump, the Barbary macaque has well-developed sitting pads called ischial callosities like other Old World monkeys.
The Barbary macaque is the only macaque species found outside Asia.
As mentioned, these animals live in the Atlas Mountains, which cut across North Africa, including Algeria.
They prefer to live at elevations as high as 1,300–7,500 feet.
According to fossil evidence, this species lived across southern Europe and every part of North Africa.
The Barbary macaque’s population has declined, and the species is declared endangered on the IUCN Red List.
5. Dama Gazelle
Also known as the addra gazelle or mhorr gazelle, the dama gazelle (Nanger dama) is a gazelle species native to the Sahara Desert and the Sahel.
The dama gazelle has three subspecies based on the hue of the animal’s back, sides, and haunches.
Nonetheless, the species’ overall population has decreased by around 80%.
The dama gazelle generally has white skin, a reddish-brown head and neck, and horns shaped like the letter “S.”
Depending on the sex, this animal weighs between 77 and 185 pounds.
The easiest way to tell the sexes apart is by the length of their horns; the horns of the male dama gazelle can grow as long as 14 inches, while females have shorter horns.
Unlike many other desert mammals, the dama gazelle is a diurnal species, and they use secretions from glands near their eyes and heaps of dung and urine to mark their territories.
As mentioned, the number of these animals in the wild has fallen by 80% over the last decade.
As such, the IUCN lists it as critically endangered, with a population of less than 300.
One of the primary reasons for the decline of the dama gazelle is habitat destruction.
As humans began to move into the animals’ territory, they cut down most of the trees and plants that dama gazelles feed on, hindering them from finding food.
4. Mediterranean Monk Seal
As the only species under the Monachus genus, the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is an earless seal that belongs to the Phocidae family.
Experts consider this seal the rarest pinniped, and less than 700 individuals are left alive.
Despite being scattered in several parts of the Mediterranean, the population of these seals remains unknown in some areas, making them critically endangered.
Male Mediterranean monk seals weigh more than females, averaging over 700 pounds and reaching almost eight feet, while females weigh around 660 pounds.
This species has the shortest hair of any pinniped.
The fur of the Mediterranean monk seal is black in males and brown to dark grey in females.
Males have a lighter belly that is nearly white. These seals also have shorter and broader snouts and long nostrils.
Over time, this pinniped’s habitat has changed. Until the 20th century, Mediterranean monk seals gathered and took refuge on exposed beaches.
However, they abandoned their original habitat and now exclusively conduct these activities in sea caves not accessible to humans.
Although there are around 700 individuals left in the wild, the exact number of these animals in Algeria is unknown.
Over time, several factors—primarily commercial hunting, coastal urbanization, and pollution—led to a significant population decline.
3. Northern Bald Ibis
Otherwise known as the waldrapp or hermit ibis, the northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) is a unique and endangered bird species native to North Africa and the Middle East.
Recognized as one of the rarest birds in the world, only a few hundred individuals are roaming the wild.
However, 2000 northern bald ibises have been found to exist in captivity.
The easiest way to recognize this bird is by its bald head, long curved bill, and glossy black plumage.
This bird weighs an average of 35–46 oz and is between 28 to 31 inches.
The legs and the long, curved bill are crimson, while the face and head are a dull red and featherless.
Although the plumage of the sexes is identical, males often weigh more than females.
Unfortunately, the Northern bald ibis is critically endangered due to habitat loss, hunting, and pesticide use.
It is a migratory bird that spends the winter in the Middle East and returns to its breeding grounds in Morocco, Algeria, and Syria during the spring.
The species is well adapted to its habitat, which includes rocky cliffs, semi-desert areas, and mountainous terrain.
2. Saharan Cheetah
The Saharan cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), also known as the Northwest African cheetah, is a critically endangered subspecies of cheetah found in the Sahara desert of North Africa.
With an estimate of fewer than 250 individuals of this subspecies left in the wild, this species is one of the rarest big cats in the world.
Despite its impressive adaptations, the Saharan cheetah faces numerous threats to its survival.
The Saharan cheetah has adapted to the harsh desert environment by developing a light tan coat that blends in with the sand and rocky terrain and has longer legs than other cheetah subspecies, allowing it to run faster and more efficiently over long distances.
Its slender body, elongated tail, and keen eyesight make it a formidable predator, capable of outrunning and catching prey such as gazelles, hares, and desert rodents.
Habitat loss and fragmentation due to human activities, including agriculture, mining, and oil and gas exploration, are significant factors that have caused the decline of the Saharan cheetah population.
As the human population in North Africa continues to grow, the Saharan cheetah’s habitat needs to be more cohesive, making it difficult for individuals to move freely and find suitable mates.
1. Scimitar-horned Oryx
The Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah), also known as the Sahara oryx, is a species of antelope native to the Sahara Desert in Africa.
Once widely distributed across North Africa, the Scimitar-horned Oryx was declared extinct in the wild in 2000 due to hunting and habitat loss.
The return of a few animals into a safe enclosure in 2017 and subsequent births have resulted in an increase in the population of these creatures to 400.
The Scimitar-horned Oryx stands approximately four to five feet tall at the shoulder and weighs between 300 and 400 pounds.
Its name comes from its distinctive curved horns reaching up to three feet.
Males use these horns in territorial displays and during fights with other males over mating rights.
The animal has a sandy brown coat blending with the desert terrain and a white underbelly.
It has large, dark eyes adapted to see in low light conditions, which is essential in the harsh desert environment.
Hunting for its meat and horns and habitat loss due to human settlement and agriculture caused populations to decline rapidly.
Efforts to conserve the Scimitar-horned Oryx began in the 1960s by establishing protected areas and captive breeding programs.
Captive breeding was important, as it allowed the establishment of genetically diverse populations to be reintroduced into the wild.