New wildlife spotted on Dubai’s ‘green’ desert

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New wildlife spotted on Dubai’s ‘green’ desert

Dubai’s leading wildlife specialist Dr Reza Khan spotted this new face of Dubai’s desert during his recent field research trips to the desert.

By Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 29 Oct 2014, 12:12 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:51 PM

Green efforts in Dubai’s arid deserts are paying their dividends slowly and naturally. Over 140 species of birds, a dozen of which are yet to be identified, have been spotted in and around a lake created in the middle of Saih Al Salam Desert, which has also seen a green belt being nurtured along its bank.

Dubai’s leading wildlife specialist Dr Reza Khan spotted this new face of Dubai’s desert during his recent field research trips to the desert.

“Dubai’s desert is rapidly changing its face towards biodiversity enrichment, beyond the economic boom that is also taking over large parts of the desert,” said Dr Khan, a specialist in wildlife and zoo management at the Public Parks and Horticulture department of the Dubai Municipality.

Dr Khan has been undertaking field trips along with one or more zoo employees to conduct research in the coastal areas to the centre of the desert and up to the hilly areas of the country for the last two decades or so.

In his recent report, he has recorded 130 species of birds from Al Qudra Lake situated in the middle of Saih Al Salam Desert.

The municipality created this lake in Saih Al Salam, where institutions belonging to His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, are busy greening the desert and creating freshwater wetlands to enrich the arid environment of Dubai, said Dr Khan.

The feed for birds and gazelles is provided by the Engineer’s Office of Shaikh Mohammed. The lake has been stocked with Tilapia fishes whereas parts of its banks are covered with reed-beds. “What you don’t have in the desert are water and greenery. When you create these two, the desert will naturally see a new eco-system being developed,” said Dr Khan.

New faces

The most notable spotting among the birds is that of eight Lappet-faced vultures soaring over Al Qudra Lake last Wednesday.

Dr Khan said he, along with two field helpers, spotted eight vultures soaring over the desert belt for nearly two hours after 10am. He saw the vultures coming within 200-300 metres near the ground and looking down to spot dead prey.

This is the first time Dr Khan has sighted such a large number of endangered vultures within Bab Al Shams and Saih Al Salam Desert of Dubai.

Other notable records he has made include sighting of Glossy Ibis, Caspian Plover, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Gull-billed Tern, etc., that are partial to the coastal areas. Among mainland and migratory birds that have been found in the area are Eurasian Wryneck, Rosy Starling, Common Starling, Shrikes, Wheatears, eagles, falcons, etc.

“More than a square kilometre of the land surrounding Al Qudra Lake has been ... planted with nearly a dozen species of flowering and fruiting trees ... because of that many species of birds started breeding here,” Dr Khan said. A good number of ground nesting birds were seen breeding on the ground and under trees.

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