If you were to look out across the desert landscape of the Arabian Peninsula, you would likely be greeted with a view of the Arabian oryx, or desert antelope. They have a very distinct look and have been seen in the area for thousands of years.
During the 1970s, however, the population dropped to close to extinction levels because of excessive hunting and development in the area.
The United Arab Emirates Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) reports that after that drop, they are now seeing an increase in the number of desert antelope.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is the EAU controller that spearheaded the conservation program. The primary way that the numbers increased was due to captive breeding, as the oryx would be released into the wild.
The UAE has more of those desert antelope than any other country in the world at this time, both in Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Sarab Protected Area and the Arabian Oryx Protected Area. The population in those areas is thought to number 7000.
According to a report in The National, the general secretary of the EAD, Dr. Shaikha Al Dhaheri, called the oryx a “symbol of our cultural heritage.”
He went on to say: “Thanks to extensive captive breeding of the species undertaken by the late Sheikh Zayed, the species was saved. This project has become an example to be followed across the world and represents great success for protection and captive-breeding programs.”
In a press release, the head of EAD’s Board of Directors, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, went on to point out how “the Emirates are committed to preserving wildlife and endangered species, and the release of these majestic animals into the wild constitutes a moment of pride for us.”
The desert antelope is an iconic and recognizable part of the area. Thanks to the efforts of the UAE conservation program, the antelope are not likely to disappear after being a part of the area for thousands of years.Whizzco