World Wild Day, established since 2014, engages states in a fight to save biodiversity. Here are 3 iconic species that Arab states are seeking to preserve in the region.
This year’s World Wild Day is celebrated under the theme “Recovering Key Species for Ecosystem Restoration” to raise awareness about the conservation status of the most critically endangered wildlife species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that there are about 40,000 threatened species among 142,000 studied.
The Arab world has many climatic specificities, and its arid to semi-arid landscapes make it the land of a unique and rich but rare biodiversity on the globe, hence the importance of efforts for the preservation of natural ecosystems and animals. Among a large number of species under the protection of the authorities, here are the 3 emblematic animals of the continuation of the efforts:
1. The Arabian Leopard
The Arabian leopard has become the emblem of AlUla in Saudi Arabia. There are only about 200 of the family left, and only about 50 of those are in the wild, even though the animal has been around the Arabian Peninsula for nearly 500,000 years. The smallest leopard in the world is at the center of the Kingdom’s captive breeding programs, and even has its annual Leopard Day since this year, celebrated a few days ago. Saudi Arabia aims to gradually reintroduce the leopard into protected nature reserves, which are becoming more and more numerous in the country.
2. The Arabian Oryx
The ungulate is located in the Arabian Peninsula, from Oman to Iraq. Its population has been declining since the 1990s, with only 500 individuals in the wild. Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have set up numerous captive breeding centers to safeguard the animal. 6,000 to 7,000 animals are the subject of these breeding programs. Abu Dhabi is beginning to release the animal into the wild step by step.
3. The dama gazelle
The Dama gazelle, little known to the general public, is nevertheless one of the most threatened African mammals. Over the last 30 years, its population has dropped by 80%. The cause: hunting and the loss of its natural habitat. Despite the efforts of Morocco and Tunisia for its conservation, the reintroduction of gazelles in the wild has not been successful. However, the species breeds massively in captivity in the Maghreb, and hopes are not in vain. The number of national parks is increasing in the region, proof of a considerable commitment of the authorities to the safeguard of these animals.