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UAE releasess 20 Arabian Oryx in Jordan's Wadi Rum

posted on 31/07/2009: 2635 views

Twenty Arabian Oryx (8 males and 12 females) were released yesterday (Wednesday July 29, 2009) by the United Arab Emirates in the Wadi Rum Protected Area of Jordan. The release is part of HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces' initiative to reintroduce the Arabian Oryx into its natural habitat in Jordan.

The project began when the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), which chairs the Coordinating Committee for Conservation of Arabian Oryx, and Al Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, Aqaba Special Economic Zone, signed a sponsorship agreement in April 2007. Under this agreement, EAD is sponsoring the $1.100 million three-year project which entails several components, including the reintroduction of the Arabian Oryx into the Wadi Rum Protected Area. This also includes rehabilitating the habitat and helping local residents to improve their living standards.

The Oryx release, which came after 8 decades of extinction in Jordan, was attended by HE Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Managing Director of EAD, HE Ali Mohammad Bin Hammad Al Shamsi, UAE Ambassador to Jordan and HE Majid Mansouri, EAD's Secretary General. Eng. Hosni Abu Ghida, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and representatives of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as dignitaries and heads of tribes in the Wadi Rum region also attended this release. The released oryxes were transferred earlier this year to Jordan after Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort administered the necessary medical check ups and vaccinations.

The twenty animals, which are the first herd to be released in Wadi Rum, were placed in enclosures to give them the opportunity to adapt to the desert habitat. The released animals will be monitored by satellite to track their movement and behavior to ensure the animals' safety.

It is worthwhile to note that during the first phase of this project, a management committee was set up to oversee implementation of the programme. The Committee is composed of representatives from EAD, Al Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and the Jordan Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

Al Bowardi said that as part of the UAE's long term commitment to conserve its precious biodiversity, the Arabian Oryx has received a large share of the UAE wildlife protection and sustainable development strategy.

"In the early 1960s, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, directed the capture of two breeding pairs of the Arabian Oryx for the nucleus of a captive-breeding programme in Al Ain. Hunting and habitat destruction were the main reasons behind the Oryx's disappearance after it had once roamed the Arabian Peninsula," he added.

"All of these efforts were continued and translated by the vision and wise directives of UAE President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was inspired by the legacy of his father," he said.

Today, the UAE hosts the largest group of Arabian Oryx in the world with more than 4,000 Oryx in the UAE.

Al Bowardi stressed that reintroducing the Arabian Oryx into its natural habitats in Jordan is part of the UAE's efforts to conserve this species. The species is not only endangered but also an important part of the Arabian Peninsula's heritage. As part of this initiative, a similar programme is being developed to reintroduce this extinct species into its natural habitats in Iraq.

He noted that to enhance coordination in this area the Arabian Oryx range states adopted a regional strategy, which aims at facilitating the conservation of the Arabian Oryx in the range states with a long term objective to establish a viable population that will roam the Arabian Peninsula. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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