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Conserving UAE’s wildlife

Silvia Radan (silvia@khaleejtimes.com) / 19 May 2013

Abu Dhabi’s environmental body is currently managing over 50,000 animals throughout the emirate, according to its recently released 2012 annual report.

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) began collecting information about terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems, starting with the Western Region, in order to assess the health of land wildlife, effectiveness of environmental regulations, and highlight key areas for conservation.

According to the report, EAD started animal health screening last year and a vaccination programme was initiated to improve the long-term health of animals.

“The implementation of the wildlife management plan has allowed for the animal populations to grow at a sustainable rate, which will reduce the risk of disease and mortality rate,” states the report.

One of the species that benefited from EAD’s biodiversity efforts were the Arabian Oryx, which was previously extinct in the wild. Not only are there now large populations roaming in the protected areas in the Western Region, but last year 20 Arabian Oryx were trans-located to Wadi Rum in Jordan.

A survey conducted in 2012 by the General Secretariat for the Conservation of the Arabian Oryx, shows the UAE has 58 per cent of the total population of Arabian Oryx in the Middle East.

Last year was also a good one for Dugongs. These sea cows are notoriously shy and elusive to humans, but EAD managed to tag four of them last year, which allowed the wildlife experts to study their movement and habitat via satellite transmitter. The data received so far is still being analysed.

“The Dugongs are foraging within a radius of 10 to 15 kilometres from the site they were captured and released. The average distance travelled by the Dugongs per day is...between 6.2 and 8.8 kilometres,” according to the report.

Birds were also high on the EAD’s agenda last year. Throughout the emirate, the agency monitored 60 sites, recording 420 bird species, an average of 42,000 birds per month.

Among them, nearly 12,000 breeding pairs of the globally threatened Socotra cormorant were spotted and 119 active breeding pairs of Ospreys, which constitute almost a quarter of the breeding population in the Arabian Gulf.

For the second consecutive year, 17 greater flamingo chicks were born last summer in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, while the crab plover, which doesn’t breed anywhere else in the UAE, resumed breeding in the previously abandoned colony at Abu Al Abyad island.

A fisheries survey, regulations to establish aquacultures in Abu Dhabi and a code-of-conduct for users of the Eastern Mangroves in the capital (which may be declared a protected area in the future) were also projects initiated by EAD in 2012.

 

 

 

 
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