A List of the Endangered Species of Mauritania

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 25th September 2023

Flag of the Mauritania
Flag of the Mauritania / New Vectors via Istock

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a country in Northwest Africa.

Mauritania is the 11th largest African country and the 28th largest country in the world, and it has around 90% of its land in the Sahara Desert.

Because of its largely arid geography, most of the animals in Mauritania have adapted to the country’s desert regions. 

The country divides into two primary biodiversities.

The North falls under the Palearctic realm, while the South is in the Afrotropic realm.

Some of the most common animals in this country are birds, many of which migrate during the winter.

A flock of barnacle geese during autumn migration
A flock of barnacle geese during autumn migration / Thermos via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.5

Other animals, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians inhabit some parts of Mauritania.

However, several of these creatures are becoming more endangered due to some threats, and their populations are declining.

Here are some species facing endangerment in Mauritania:

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5. African Wild Dog

An African wild dog in Botswana
An African wild dog in Botswana / Thomas Retterath via Istock

The African wild dog, also known as the painted dog or Cape hunting dog, is one of Africa’s most unique and endangered species in sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite being listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there have been sightings of African wild dogs in Mauritania.

The country’s regions are not the preferred habitat for this species, but there have been reports of African wild dogs in Mauritania’s Diawling National Park.

Generally, these animals weigh between 40 and 79 pounds. One of the primary reasons for this species’ popularity is the coat.

These animals have extreme color variation, and no two dogs have the same fur color.

Specimens from the northern part of Africa often have mostly black coats with little white and yellow spots, but those from the southern part tend to be more vividly colored and have coats with brown, black, and white.

The biggest threat to the species in Mauritania is conflicts with humans, as the country has a high livestock population.

A yawning African Wild Dog
A yawning African Wild Dog / pjmalsbury via iStock

Conservation efforts are crucial to ensure the survival of the African wild dog in Mauritania and throughout its range.

These efforts include protecting their habitat, implementing measures to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and preventing the spread of diseases.

4. Dama Gazelle

Dama gazelle, addra gazelle, or mhorr gazelle
Dama gazelle, addra gazelle, or mhorr gazelle / JWJarrett via Istock

The dama gazelle, also known as the addra gazelle, is a critically endangered species of antelope native to the Sahel region of Africa.

One of the last remaining populations of dama gazelles is in Mauritania.

These animals inhabit southeast Mauritania, where the desert meets the Sahel region.

However, like in other areas and countries, the dama gazelle faces numerous threats to its survival in Mauritania.

Dama gazelles are among the largest, weighing between 77 and 165 pounds.

They have long and slender legs, and their coats are white and tan.

An endangered male dama gazelle from Northern Africa
An endangered male dama gazelle from Northern Africa / EcoPic via iStock

Both sexes are easy to identify by their S-shaped horns.

The dama gazelle is a diurnal species, which means it is active throughout the day and requires more water to thrive than many other desert mammals.

Currently, there are only a few hundred dama gazelles in the wild.

Their biggest threat in Mauritania is habitat loss.

The country is experiencing a rapid expansion of agriculture, mining, and other human activities, which are destroying the natural habitats of these animals.

Dama gazelles also get hunted for their meat and horns.

3. Addax

The Addax
The Addax / Tammy Klepac via Istock

The addax, also known as the white antelope, is a critically endangered species that once roamed the vast deserts of North Africa.

Today, addax live in small, isolated populations in a few African countries, including Mauritania.

The addax population in Mauritania has adapted to the harsh, dry climate of the country’s deserts, much like other countries.

In the summer, the addax’s coat is between a sandy blond and white. Its horns have corkscrew shapes, reaching 22 to 33 inches.

Males are larger, weighing 220 to 276 pounds, while females weigh 130 to 200 pounds.

Unfortunately, the Addax is under serious threat in Mauritania, as well as in other countries where it inhabits.

Addax with twisted spiral horns and pale fur
Addax with twisted spiral horns and pale fur / gorsh13 via iStock

Locals in Mauritania hunt this animal for its meat and horns like it is in other places where it lives.

Another factor that has contributed to the decline of the addax in Mauritania is habitat loss.

The desert has been infringed upon as the nation’s population has increased and more areas go to cultivation.

2. Slender-Horned Gazelle

The rhim gazelle or rhim (Gazella leptoceros), also known as the slender-horned gazelle / seyed mostafa savaedi via Istock
The rhim gazelle or rhim (Gazella leptoceros), also known as the slender-horned gazelle / seyed mostafa savaedi via Istock

The slender-horned gazelle is an endangered species of antelope found in the deserts of Mauritania.

Also called the rhim gazelle or Gazella leptoceros, its exact population in Mauritania is unknown.

However, there are around 2,500 individuals left in Africa.

Slender-horned gazelles have adapted to live in some of the world’s harshest conditions and can be recognized by their long and slender horns.

These gazelles are the palest of all, with cream or sometimes white fur.

They weigh between 77 and 88 pounds, and their horns grow as long as over two feet.

These horns are primarily used during mating season to demonstrate dominance and protect the animal from predators.

An addax, with its distinctive spiral horns
An addax, with its distinctive spiral horns / Damian Lugowski via iStock

Compared to the males’, which are both narrow and slightly S-shaped, the females’ horns are practically straight and significantly lighter.

One of the most impressive adaptations of slender-horned gazelles is their ability to survive in extreme desert conditions.

Their natural habitat, the Sahara desert, has been rapidly shrinking due to climate change and human development.

Additionally, humans hunt them for their meat and distinctive horns, which are significant in some cultures.

1. North African Ostrich

North African ostrich (Struthio camelus)
North African ostrich (Struthio camelus) / gorsh13 via Istock

Also called the Barbary ostrich or the red-necked ostrich, the North African ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus) is a species native to the Saharan region of North Africa, particularly the countries of Mauritania, Chad, and Niger.

The ostrich has long been associated with the area, playing a significant role in traditional folklore and providing local inhabitants with food and resources.

In Mauritania, the ostrich has played an influential role in the cultural and economic life of the country, serving as a symbol of the region’s unique biodiversity and contributing to the livelihoods of local people.

North African ostriches are easily told apart from others by their pink neck and legs.

They grow as tall as nine feet, weighing up to 340 pounds.

As such, they are among the most oversized birds in the world.

An ostrich glides effortlessly on a grassy field
An ostrich glides effortlessly on a grassy field / JohnCarnemolla via iStock

Like other ostriches, they are known for their speed, reaching up to 70km/h.

Their diet consists mainly of plants, but they also consume insects, lizards, and small rodents.

The conservation of the North African ostrich is crucial not only for its cultural and ecological value but also for the wider biodiversity of the Saharan region.

This species faces threats like poaching, habitat loss, etc.

The Mauritanian government has established protected areas for the ostrich, including the Banc d’Arguin National Park, home to a significant population.


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