Arabian 'unicorn' thrives again in wild

AP News
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Posted: Jun 16, 2011 5:20 AM
Arabian 'unicorn' thrives again in wild

An environmental group says an animal widely believed to be the source of the unicorn legend is back from the brink of extinction after a successful breeding program.

The Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, said Thursday about 1,000 distinctive wild Arabian or White Oryx now exist in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula.

It credited the success to efforts to breed captive oryx and release them back into the desert. Those efforts began in Oman in 1982, a decade after it is believed the last one was shot in the wild.

The oryx _ a large species of antelope with two long horns _ is known locally as Al Maha and figures heavily in Arabic poetry and paintings.

When the horns are viewed in profile they can appear as one, like a unicorn.