The Arabian oryx, which inspired early unicorn myths, made a remarkable recovery from extinction.
Lisa Frank fans, rejoice! The Arabian oryx, the species that may have inspired the original unicorn legends (and millions of psychedelic stickers), teetered on the edge of extinction less than 40 years ago. But just yesterday, the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced that the oryx's threat level would be lowered from "endangered" to "vulnerable" species.
According to the IUCN's latest Red List, an annual update on the health of at-risk species, the Arabian oryx is a true conservation success story. The oryx, which once thrived throughout the Arabian peninsula's most arid lands, was classified "Extinct in the Wild" by the IUCN in the 1970s, and in the 1980s efforts began to breed the oryx in captivity and reintroduce the creature throughout Oman, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the region. A recent survey counts the species at 1,000 strong, a promising figure given its close call with extinction.
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