In the shadows of a Moorish fortress in southern Spain, desert gazelles wait patiently to return to their natural habitat in the Western Sahara.

Poaching, colonial military garrisons across the region and finally the war in which Polisario guerrillas have been fighting Morocco made this natural habitat a dangerous place for animals.Three sub-species of the Dama, Dorcas and Cuvieri gazelles and the goat-like Barbary sheep have been saved from extinction at a special park in Almeria, Europe's driest corner.

The park, run by the government's Dry Zone Experimental Research Center, was set up 17 years ago with a few specimens of each of the four species. It now houses about 250 animals.