As part of its biodiversity preservation programme, Saudi Arabia is currently reintroducing more than 1,500 specimens of various endangered species into its reserve in the Al-Ula region.
650 Arabian gazelles, 550 sand gazelles, 280 Arabian oryx, and 100 Nubian ibex, for a total of 1,580 animals, over a few phases. This major operation to reintegrate endangered species into their natural habitat is carried out by Saudi Arabia through the Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU), the governmental arm in charge of development in the region.
The whole thing concerns 3 reserves in this region placed at the heart of the country’s tourism and environmental projects: Sharaan, Wadi Nakhlah and Al Gharameel. In total, the area covers some 12,400 km2, an area larger than Lebanon!
In order to balance the natural and cultural environment in #AlUla, we are launching the largest campaign to resettle wild animals in nature reserves, which include: Arabian and Sand Gazelle, Arabian Oryx and Nubian Ibex. pic.twitter.com/gOl9eClGXG
— الهيئة الملكية لمحافظة العلا (@RCU_SA) January 20, 2023
Begun earlier this year, it is the largest animal reintroduction operation since RCU launched its policy in 2019.
A multifaceted project
The conservation efforts also include the harvesting of native vegetation and the development of new infrastructure, including quarantine pens.
All animals are fitted with satellite tracking collars and will be monitored by the Commission’s rangers. This is the first time that these collars – powered by solar energy – will be used for ungulate species in the region. This year the commission hopes to release five times as many animals as in 2022.
Ultimately, by 2030, the country hopes to successfully reintroduce the Arabian leopard, the local Apex predator. The species is currently critically endangered.