Saturday, June 19, 2021

Abu Dhabi sees an increase in the number of Arabian Oryx in the region’s protected areas

One of the endangered animals of the Arabian land, the Arabian oryx or white oryx which was once on the verge of extinction, has been seen a rise in numbers, thanks to the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi.

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has seen a recorded 22 per cent increase in the number of Oryx in the protected areas of the region, as compared to the previous studies.

Last November, the EAD conducted an aerial survey of the 6,000-square-kilometre Al Dhafra reserve and shared that there has been a steady rise in the number. This was a survey done under the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme which was launched in 2007 to relocate the Arabian Oryx.

Previously, there were not more than 160 herds of oryx, but today, the herd has successfully reached 946 heads. These wild animals of the desert have been prey to hunting for their meat, hides and horns, but now more than 10,000 of the animals can be found in the Emirates – about half of which are in Abu Dhabi.

Sharing the good news, Secretary-General of EAD, Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri said, “This survey is a major part of our efforts to preserve the Arabian Oryx, under the hugely successful Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme. Our leadership support to establish protected areas across the emirate has been essential to protecting species and biodiversity, which were once on the verge of extinction. Arabian Oryx is an iconic species of the desert landscape and a symbol of our cultural heritage and was almost hunted to extinction in the wild in the early seventies and only survived in captivity.”

It was due to extensive captive breeding of the species undertaken by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the species was saved. He successfully launched a programme to help preserve the Arabian Oryx, increase their numbers, and relocate them for protection.

“This project has become an example to be followed across the world and represents a great success for protection and captive-breeding programmes,” Dr Shaikha Salem further added.

Cover Image: Shutterstock

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