Arabian "Unicorn" Leaps Out of Near Extinction
Antelope rises from six to a thousand individuals in Middle East.
A frequent muse for Arabic poetry and paintings, the Arabian oryx resembles a unicorn in profile, when its two long horns appear to fuse into one.
But it seemed the hardy antelope was headed for an entirely fictional existence in 1972, when only six animals existed in the wild.
Five of the remaining antelopes were either killed or taken into captivity over the course of the year, and the last wild "unicorn" was shot in Oman in 1972—capping decades of uncontrolled hunting for food and sport.
Now, however, the oryx has leaped to at least a thousand individuals in parts of its native range within Saudi Arabia, Israel, the