La Gazelle - Page 136

distribution in Lybia, it is unknown due to the lack of data and the current unstable situation in the country. In this gloomy situation, only the populations of Algeria and Tunisia are relatively known to be potentially viable. But this condition is not stable. It is closely linked to the effective state of conservation in those countries. Its regression happens in a series of extinction that affected exceptional species such as the Red neck ostrich from North Africa, the Saharan cheetah and the Addax. It is the reflection of the decline of this fascinating world, both fragile and strong at the same time. Life and death of the Reem or the tragedy of a symbol La Gazelle 59 I 138 The Reem prefers to wander in inter-dunal pastures. But, when it detects a danger, it rushes towards the dunes. The latters represent its only shelter against predators and hunters. Unfortunately, it was a time before the extinction of great predators like the Saharan cheetah and the advent of modern transportation able to violate the most remote places. The oral tradition as well as some field data report that the Reem lived at the doorstep of Douz especially during rainy years. However, since a few years the species has been pushed South by a destructive poaching, by massacres beyond comprehension. The images that filter through show the use of extremely shocking and cruel methods ! Emptiness settles around Tambein, Taganiss, El Mida and many other places considered as remote sites until recently. The biological void progresses like a desertification ogre destroying everything in front of him, everything that makes the magic of the Sahara... of the Tunisian Sahara and all its symbols of life. The white gazelle is the desired target, the reason why poachers cross this mineral world, particularly incandescent during summer months... it is the beautiful... it is, unfortunately, the trophy ! The decline of the Reem and the world that surrounds it is not due to drought, lack of space or global warming. It is not natural, it is provoked ! The tragedy escalates when we learn that the poachers are not satisfied anymore with the massacre of the adults and that young orphans trafficking is happening... The taste for money and quick enrichment is now making its way. Threatened species, so-called « protected » species... the Reem leaves the dunes of its ancesters in a deafening silence. It is not like the mountain gorilla, it is not like the panda, it is not like the Bengal tiger or the tropical forests... Like all creatures of the Sahara, it is an orphan species with no sponsor, no spokesperson to defend its case in international environmental events. It is a forgotten among the forgotten ! What are the writers going to write if the Reem comes to disappear ? What will the singers say if the White gazelle vanishes forever ? What will the lovers say to describe their love’s eyes and grace ? The hole in our collective imagination will certainly be huge, horrible and weighing on our shoulders as the emptiness created in the Sahara. I