Mohamed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx reintroduction successful
ABU DHABI 28 September 2017: The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), has completed an aerial survey of the Arabian Oryx Protected Area. This recorded 835 individual animals, validating the success of the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme, which was launched in 2007 with the introduction of 160 animals.
The extensive aerial survey, conducted by of EAD’s biodiversity experts, aimed to count and map the species across the Arabian Oryx Protected Area, which covers approximately 6,000 sq.km, said Wam.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD’s Secretary-General, said, “The beautiful Arabian Oryx, Oryx leucoryx, or Al Maha, represents a cultural symbol of the UAE’s natural heritage. Efforts to protect and preserve this species have received immense support from our leadership, including numerous reintroduction projects of these in UAE and other neighbouring countries and the establishment of joint programmes to create large sanctuaries within the areas that Oryx lived in the past.
“In 2007, the Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme was launched under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who personally participated in the release of the first herd, demonstrating the depth of his passion for this iconic species and the need to conserve them and their habitat throughout range states.”
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, said, “EAD oversees a thriving population of Arabian Oryx in the Arabian Oryx Protected Area, which is the largest protected area in the UAE, with a total area of 5974 sq.km.. The protected area, which received initial approval for declaration as a terrestrial protected area in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in 2016, supports a diverse range of habitats including sand dunes, natural ghaf groves, valleys and planted forests.”
Khaldoun Ameen Al Omari, Section Manager-Terrestrial Protected Area Management and Infrastructure and Maintenance, said, “A methodical aerial census of the Arabian Oryx ensured that accurate results could be efficiently obtained. The protected area was divided into five different segments, which were surveyed over 16 flying hours.”
Al Omari said that based on the reports on annual birth rates from 2007 to 2011, and by comparing the total number counted during the current study, the rate of herd size increased between 28 and 32 per cent per year. In the early years of the herd establishment, mortality rates ranged between 8 and 12 per cent, therefore, the current herd has seen a significant natural increase in numbers due to protection and the care provided by EAD’s rangers, along with the availability of food through the herd management programme,