Friday, May 25, 2012

Wildlife Reserve Needed to Save the Arabian Oryx

An Arabian oryx herd

It has been recently reported that a wildlife expert suggested to have a vast international wildlife reserve established in the Rub 'Al Khali Desert, in order to save the Arabian oryx. The idea was implemented by Dr. Reza Khan, a wildlife and zoo specialist of the Dubai Municipality. He stated that the wildlife sanctuary would stretch across the Empty Quarter, covering the U.A.E, Saudi and Omani territories, allowing the antelopes a wide range of open space to wander. He further added that intensive awareness campaigns need to be issued to the Bedouin tribes living around the edges of the desert to make the project a success. The project has been accepted by Dr. Elsayed Mohammed, program manager of the Dubai office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). In his own words, Dr. Mohammed said that a similar approach had been successfully adopted in Africa to protect its species, including the elephant. He further added that cooperation is needed between Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the U.A.E to have an area where the oryx would cross the borders between the three nations. In addition to that, the planning would cover conservation measures which includes battling the illegal wildlife trade and poaching. The project was also supported by conservationists such as Greg Simkins of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR), who stated that the ultimate goal "is to have self-sustaining free-ranging herds across the historical range."

I'm extremely proud with what Dr. Khan proposed, regarding the conservation of the Arabian oryx. Ever since these magnificent antelopes made a comeback from the brink of extinction, they have all been living on privately-owned reserves and semi-wild parts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and other emirates. Some of the most notable of these reserves are the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and Sir Bani Yas Island of Abu Dhabi. However, some of these private collections are known to suffer problems related to inbreeding due to limited gene pools. This is one reason for the establishment of a major reserve that would cover such a vast area for the oryx to thrive. The main reason, I believe, is that the antelopes need miles of open space to wander around in their ancestral homelands where they had long disappeared. The setting up of this wildlife reserve would provide them the opportunity to recolonize the lands where there ancestors once reigned supreme. I certainly hope that this proposed project will go into effect soon, and that the numbers of the oryx will be saved in the process. In addition to that, I also believe that this technique should be implemented in Africa's Sahara region in order to save the scimitar-horned oryx. These North African relatives of the Arabian oryx are still being reared in captivity, and need to be brought back to their ancestral homelands in the Sahara in order to revive their populations.

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