Focus on threatened fauna of Arabia

SHARJAH - The fourth International Conservation Workshop, titled 'The Threatened Fauna of Arabia', being organised jointly by the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA, Sharjah) and the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), was inaugurated by Abdul Aziz Al Midfa, Director-General of EPAA, at the Arabia's Wildlife Centre in Sharjah yesterday.

By Zaigham Ali Mirza

Published: Mon 24 Feb 2003, 2:54 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 10:26 PM

The workshop is being organised under the patronage of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed AI Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and the Ruler of Sharjah.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Republic of Yemen, Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Jordan and experts from Europe and the US, who will contribute their technical and scientific expertise through presentations, are attending the workshop, which will conclude on February 26.

The main objective of the annual international workshop is to enable the participating countries to exchange information and knowledge and use their combined resources towards planning and implementing strategies to conserve wildlife and their habitats on a regional basis.

Dr Urs Breitenmoser, chairman of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, and conservation strategist, presented a paper titled "Towards a Comprehensive Conservation Strategy for the Arabian Leopard."

Dr Breitenmoser emphasised the need for a conservation action plan based on a multi-level approach, and with short, medium and long-range goals.

He said that the conservation programme of Arabian Leopard presently lacks a long-term action plan, apart from many details on the ecological process and the dynamics of the decline in the population of the species.
He also pointed out the lack of field surveys in the republic of Yemen and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Mooting a general action plan on the various Arabian Leopard countries in the peninsula, Dr Breitenmoser expressed satisfaction with the workshop, which he said was an important element in the conservation of the critically endangered species.
Status reports from all the range countries were presented during the workshop.

The report on Arabian leopards in Oman was presented by Andrew Spalton, while David Mallon presented the report on the species in Yemen and Abdul Rahman Mubarak Al Khoja presented a report on Saudi Arabia.

Presenting his report on the Arabian leopard in the UAE, Christian Gross said that the literature to estimate the size and distribution of the species' historical population is very little and primarily based on hearsay.

Mr Gross said that no suitable protected area for the Arabian leopard exists in the UAE, though Ru'us Al Jibal mountains have been proposed as a site.

He highlighted the fact that the Breeding Centre at the Arabia's Wildlife Centre in Sharjah is the only institution in the UAE working on Arabian leopard's conservation.

A new group 'Amphibians and Terrapins from the Arabian Peninsula' will hold their meeting during the workshop. It is the first time in the world that experts are meeting to analyse the situation of these species in the Arabian peninsula.

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