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Jebel Hafeet to be monitored by EAD

Filed on April 15, 2012
Jebel Hafeet to be monitored by EAD

Jebel Hafeet, the only mountain in the emirate and home to some of the most threatened wildlife and the UAE’s rarest plants, will undergo comprehensive assessment and monitoring this year by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).

Jebel Hafeet, located south of Al Ain and straddling the border between the UAE and Oman, is considered one of the most important areas in the Abu Dhabi emirate for terrestrial biodiversity.

It is home to breeding populations of globally threatened species such as the Blandford’s Fox and Brandt’s Hedgehog, as well as a number of other species that are rare or not found elsewhere in the emirate.

The globally threatened Arabian Tahr is one of these species and it has been caught on EAD’s radar, as part of EAD’s monitoring programme.

As part of its on-going effort to monitor mammal diversity and distribution in and around Jebel Hafeet, EAD has set-up special cameras in the area that automatically detect and capture a shot of anything that walks past it. The cameras, which work 24/7, use an infra-red flash which is used to avoid startling the animals.

Jebel Hafeet is home to the only concentration of the Globally Threatened Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the UAE. This species is listed as Endangered on the Red List of Birds by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The mountain is also home to breeding Kestrels as well as Bonelli’s Eagle, a resident breeding bird, and the Hume’s and Hooded Wheatears. Another important species that is resident in and around the mountain and its wadis (valleys) is the Sand Partridge.

At first sight, Jebel Hafeet appears to be barren of vegetation, yet it is home to the Dwarf palm (Nanorrhops ritchieana), locally known as Asef. This is the only species of native palm found in the UAE and is considered one of the rarest plants in Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Peninsula.

So far, 170 plant species have been documented from Jebel Hafeet and this accounts for over 40 per cent of the total plant species recorded in the emirate.

The mountain’s largest wadi, Wadi Tarabat, is alone home to around 95 species of plants, including Christ’s thorn (Ziziphus spina-christi) which was historically used for building, food and herbal medicine. Today, its leaves are still used in some areas to produce shampoo and its nectar-rich flowers are an important source of food for bees.

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