Watchtowers for wildlife enthusiasts at Ras Al Khor Sanctuary

DUBAI - Nature lovers in Dubai will now be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary without disturbing the environment, as three towers for bird watching are nearing completion there.

By Zaigham Ali Mirza

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Published: Wed 16 Jun 2004, 9:51 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:57 PM

Announcing this at a Press conference on Tuesday, senior officials of the municipality's Environment Department assured that care has been taken to ensure that flora and fauna in the area, and the special eco-system is not disturbed or damaged in the process.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Mohammed Abdulrahman Hassan, Head of the Marine Environment and Sanctuaries Unit, confirmed that about 80 per cent of the project at Ras Al Khor is complete and the new facility will be ready well before it begins to receive visitors in the winters.

"The project is being carried out in complete harmony with the surroundings, and even the look of the structure will not be a disturbance to the wildlife, mainly birds in its immediate vicinity," said Mr Hassan. He added that the walkway that leads to the tower is provided with shadow palm fronts that conceal human presence, which in itself is a kind of disturbance to wildlife.

The watchtowers are not provided with a power connection, and smoking and consumption of food and beverages will also not be allowed. "Although the special permit required to visit the sanctuary is available free of charge, there are plans to introduce at least nominal charges for an entry ticket. The proposal is being studied and there will be a decision in this regard in the near future," Mr Hassan said.

Each of the three watchtowers has a seating arrangement for seven people, complete with binoculars, literature on bird life to identify species to facilitate the work of artists who like to portray nature and wildlife, Mr Hassan said. He said that various facilities for the handicapped are also being planned at the watchtowers.

According to Mr Hassan, the civic body is trying to get the sanctuary registered with the Ramsar Convention (involving the Unesco and named after a city in Iran where the convention was held). He noted that Ras Al Khor is already listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Birdlife International.

Future plans of the project at Ras Khor - apart from the possibility of erecting more watch towers if deemed necessary - also include a control gate, a full fledged Visitor's Centre with auditorium, and an extensive walkway to pass through the various eco-systems of the sanctuary, Mr Hassan said.

He said that the project was carried out by the municipality, but was supported by private parties. "Dubai Municipality was the main party but private investors sponsored some of the requirements, such as sign boards and the like," he said.

As part of the project, exhaustive information on the sanctuary and the wildlife it provides shelter to, will be put up on the Internet and connected by a web link to the municipality's web site.

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