TALK about second chances: Sahara oryx are about to get a first-class ticket back to their natural mode of existence. Come March, the first 25 of a planned 500 animals will be flown from enclosures in Abu Dhabi to be released into their native habitat in Chad. It’s an example of an endangered animal making a recovery – and it’s not the only one.

Estimates suggest that up to 100,000 species are lost each year. That rate is thought to be at least 1000 times what it would be in the absence of the deforestation, poaching and pollution we are responsible for.

But despite this gloomy outlook, prospects are improving for some species that have narrowly escaped extinction. That’s partly thanks to ongoing success in breeding species that are extinct in the wild, and reintroducing them.

The last wild oryx to roam the grasslands of what is now the Ouadi Rime-Ouadi Achim game reserve in Chad was shot dead by a hunter in 1998. Since then, the only surviving oryx have been those in captivity, mainly in the Middle East and in North America.

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Image credit: Ira Block/Getty