Two Arabian tahrs born at desert park

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Two Arabian tahrs born at desert park

The Desert Park of the Environment and Natural Reserves in Sharjah (DPENRS) had recently seen the birth of two Arabian tahrs (Arabitragus Jayakari), a male and a female.

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Published: Tue 30 Apr 2013, 9:19 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:56 AM

According to a senior official, the rare animals were usually born at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife at the park at the beginning of spring after 170 days of pregnancy.

Chairman of the desert park Hana Saif Al Suwaidi said that the male tahr was 1.3kg when born while the female was 1.9kg. “Now, we have outstandingly bred 27 of this almost extinct animal after tireless efforts from experts over the years.”

Explaining, she said the Arabian tahr is the smallest species of tahr, widely known for stocky build with backward-arching horns in both sexes. The species is close to extinction because of intense overgrazing, poaching and habitat destruction. “There are 2,500 Arabian tahrs worldwide, but only 250 of them are adults.”

In March this year, the breeding centre of the park unveiled a newborn Arabian tahr, apart from a female cub and an Arabian Oryx bred in 2012. “The centre has been divided up into various sections, each dedicated to a group of species including reptiles, invertebrates, birds, nocturnal animals, ungulates and large carnivores.”

Al Suwaidi said that male tahr, however, are much more robust than females. “Its coat consists of a long, reddish-brown hair, with a dark stripe running down the back and they possess the most impressive manes which extend right down the back and grow longer, based on the age.

“Older males also grow such a grand mane with a black muzzle and darker eye stripes. As with most mountain goats and sheep, it has rubbery hooves to provide balance and traction on the steep, rocky slopes,” she added.

Al Suwaidi said the Arabian tahr lives on steep rocky slopes of Hajar Mountains in the Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates at altitudes of up to 1,800 metres above sea level.

Unlike other species of tahrs, the Arabian tahr is solitary or lives in small groups consisting of a female and a kid, or a male. “Instead of forming herds during seasonal ruts, reproduction occurs in small, dispersed family units. There are reports of births occurring throughout the year, and gestation lasts from 140-145 days.”

These animals are usually browsers, feeding on grass, shrubs, leaves and fruits of most trees. They are highly dependent on water and would descend from their point of elevation to drink from wadis, and would travel to new areas when water dries up.

The easily accessible Desert Park, located 28km off Sharjah city on Al Dhaid road (Interchange-9), comprises several eateries, cafes, as well as the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife.

“Not only does the Wildlife Centre house the world’s largest collection of Arabian wildlife but it is also the only zoological park in the Middle East to be completely indoors, making it perfect for a day out, regardless of the weather,” Al Suwaidi said.

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