Thoughts on Arabian wildlife

SHARJAH - The fifth Conservation Workshop for the Fauna of Arabia was inaugurated on Sunday by Abdulaziz Al Midfa, Director General of Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), Sharjah, at the premises of the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife in Sharjah.

By Zaigham Ali Mirza

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Published: Mon 16 Feb 2004, 12:36 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:43 PM

The workshop is being attended by 65 to 70 experts from over 12 countries, and will conclude this Wednesday.

"The main objective behind organising this workshop is to maintain contact with different institutions that and individuals who are working on conservation of Arabian wildlife. And this maintaining of contact is primarily aimed at increasing exchange of information, which is an important aspect of wildlife conservation," Mr Al Midfa told Khaleej Times.

Expressing great satisfaction with the results of the earlier workshops, Mr Al Midfa pointed out that a lot of ground has been covered in terms of forging ties between the various authorities representing the many countries in the Arabian peninsula. "A lot of things that we wanted have happened as a result of these workshops; the memorandums of understanding and agreements that we have signed with several countries in the region for instance," he said, adding that exchange of animals for breeding purposes has increased over the years.

He revealed that an Arabian leopard was received at the centre from Yemen only last week, while four of the creatures were brought in from Saudi Arabia, one of which was returned. "Our's is the largest and by far the most successful breeding centre for Arabian wildlife in the world. We started off with just two leopards, and now we have about 16," Mr Al Midfa commented.

An exhibition of stuffed animals, several of which were confiscated by the customs authorities at the Sharjah International Airport, was also inaugurated by Mr Al Midfa on the sidelines of the workshop. The exhibition, he explained, is aimed at spreading awareness about issues such as illegal hunting, trading in stuffed animals or endangered species and other such issues connected with wildlife conservation.

The morning session of the workshop saw the presentation of three reports. David Mallon, Regional Chairperson of the Antelope Specialist Group (Asia and Middle East), Species Survival Commission (IUCN), the United Kingdom, and a French expert Jackie Judas, presented separate reports on the status of the Arabian leopard. Christopher Drew, Zoologist at Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), Abu Dhabi, presented the status report on Cape hare.

The presentations were followed up with group discussions on Arabian Tahr, a full assessment of Arabian Hyrax and Arabian hare, and freshwater creatures.

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