Return of the Unicorn, 1999

First Broadcast: National Geographic Television

Distribution: McKinnon Films and Hit Entertainment

Running Time: Approx. 52 minutes

The striking appearance and impressive horns of the Arabian oryx are believed to have given rise to the myth of the unicorn. Hunted to extinction in the wild, and saved by a pioneering programme of captive breeding, the oryx is now being returned to it’s ancestral domain – the Rub Al Khali in Southern Arabia, the largest sand desert on earth.

As the wild born animals take control of the herds, extraordinary strategies of survival and intriguing social behaviour is filmed for the first time – only the hardiest survive the extreme heat and absence of water. Rare sand cats, Ruppell’s fox and reptiles are hunters of the night. Lappet-faced vultures, endangered gazelles and bustard find refuge, breed and re-enact timeless cycles of endurance. It’s a heartening chapter in the struggle to preserve Arabia’s ancient wildlife heritage – the remarkable story of an animal reborn.

Main Species

Arabian Oryx, Sand Cats, Ruppell’s Fox, Lappet-faced Vultures, Houbara Bustard, Arabian Sand Gazelle.


Rub Al Khali Desert, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates


Wildscreen International Film Festival, UK 2000
Festival Finalist, Best Conservation Film


  • Producer / Director: Michael McKinnon
  • Executive Producer for the GCCJPPI Bader Al Mudhaf
  • Narrator: Andrew Sachs
  • Photography: John Bulmer
  • Additional Photography: David Shale
  • Editor: John Hackney
  • Composer: Deborah Mollison
  • Scriptwriter: Anne MacLeod
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