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Endangered Species in UAE

by Aaditya Singh | 19-11-2017 13:28 recommendations 0

The UAE is the natural habitat for a variety of beautiful animals, but many of them are on the endangered list.

According to a January 2015 report in the local Arabic daily Al Ittihad, around 800 types of plants, 48 land mammals, 440 bird species, 72 reptiles and amphibians, and more than 5,000 invertebrates in the UAE are at risk of extinction. 

The main reasons are loss of habitat because of urban sprawl, pollution, climate change, unsustainable hunting, deforestation and overgrazing.



Mentioned below are six of the most vulnerable creatures of UAE.


Hawksbill turtle
Status: Critically endangered


?         Loss of nesting and feeding habitats due to rising water levels

?         Excessive egg collection

?         Fishery-related mortality

?         Pollution

?         Coastal development

?         Illegal wildlife trade due to use of shells as jewellery and          ornaments.


Arabian Leopard
Status: Critically


?         Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation,

?         Depletion of its prey, such as the Mountain Gazelle and the Arabian Tahr, caused by unregulated hunting,

?         Hunting and capture for trade

?         Retaliatory killing from local shepherds in defense of livestock

?         Use as pets or for private collections.


Arabian Tahr
Status: Endangered


?         Intense grazing competition from livestock

?         Illegal hunting and habitat degradation through human development


Spiny-tailed lizard
Status: Vulnerable


?         Habitat loss due to quarrying for gravel and building material, especially in desert areas.

?         Use for food and medicinal purposes.


Socotra Cormorant
Status: Vulnerable


?         Habitat loss and displacement of colonies due to fast paced coastal development on breeding islands

?         Human disturbance causes parents to abandon their eggs and chicks, leaving them vulnerable to predators like gulls.

?         Marine oil spills.


Houbara Bustard
Status: Vulnerable


?         Hunting by Middle Eastern falconers as a traditional practice

?         Use as prey for falcons.

?         Habitat loss and degradation, as a result of tourist activities and development, overgrazing, sand extraction and road development.



However the local daily 'The National' on January 27th 2015 quoted Mr. Ahmed Al Hashimi, Director of the Ministry of Environment and Water's Biodiversity Department, "The UAE has come long way in protecting habitats and preserving biodiversity by passing a number of laws and regulations." These include law on the protection of the environment with a list of endangered species nationwide; law on the regulation and control of international trade in threatened animals and plants;  and law regarding animal welfare and animals in captivity.


Mr Al Hashimi noted that the MoEW has also issued ministerial decisions regarding regulation of fishing with the aim of preserving fisheries and preventing the extinction of important species, particularly bottom fish that are in constant decrease.


Ministerial decision regarding the protection of plant types; and federal law regarding access to plant genetic resources were also being considered.



Subsequently, according to a report in 'The National' dated August 20th 2017, there is some encouraging news on the conservation of wildlife in the '2017 Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi Report' released in August.


A yearlong project to study the Arabian Sand Cat reported 27 sightings in the Baynouna area.


A major census using statistical inference models, after a three year research, found 701 Humpback Dolphins in the shallow, warm seawater of the national capital of UAE, meaning that the world's largest single number of the species live in the waters around Abu Dhabi.


Satellite tracking of the rare spotted eagle followed their migration path through the UAE, showing that they rested here in Spring and Autumn on a journey of 19,000 kilometers.


A chance discovery recorded extremely rare 10 Helleborine Orchids (Epipactis veratrifolia), the only species of orchid native to the UAE.


The numbers of Hawksbill turtle nests were only just short of the record total from 2010, while the agency was able to rescue, rehabilitate and release 56 yearlings, juvenile and adult sea turtles as well as 51 critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles, three endangered Green Turtles and two Loggerheads.


A conservation project for the Scimitar horned Oryx, declared extinct in the wild in 2010, saw animals bred in the UAE released into a reserve in Chad last year, with the birth of the first calf already recorded.


One of its nurseries has also successfully propagated the Little Dwarf Palm from the one surviving plant and is now ready to return the species to its natural habitat on Jebel Hafeet.


The Agency says that it has also met targets for increasing areas of both terrestrial and marine areas, now covering 15.43% and 13.45% of each, respectively.


Efforts have also continued to monitor algae blooms, a potential health hazard that can also damage desalination plants. The EAD is using 20 new buoys that can monitor sea water quality and detect conditions likely to cause algae.


The Agency also says it responded to 17 major incidents during the year, including 'Red Tide' algae invasions, achieving a 100% record in terms of rapid response and effective management.



'Greening of the Desert' program on Sir Bani Yas Island in Abu Dhabi aims to make the UAE's deserts more suitable for human settlement and provide a haven for Arabia's endangered wildlife. The Arabian Wildlife Park, a bird sanctuary and wildlife reserve, takes up about half of the island, providing an environment for wild animals to freely roam while the island remains open for visitors.


The Park houses some 13,000 animals indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula including critically endangered or vulnerable species such as Arabian Oryx, Sand Gazelle, Mountain Gazelle, Urial sheep, Barbary sheep, Sea turtles, as well as free-roaming predators and scavengers such as the Sudan cheetah and striped hyena, in addition to Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffes, dolphins and several million trees and plants. Many of the more than one-hundred species of wild birds which can be found on the island are indigenous to the region. The Arabian oryx, a species of antelope, was formerly extinct in the wild, but Sir Bani Yas Island boasts of one of the world's largest herd of over 400.


While research, conservation efforts and ecological investment are a major part in the park's current development, a number of wildlife related activities are available for visitors, to showcase nature and promote a love for nature. These include adventure safaris and game drives, nature trails and hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, archery and snorkeling and outdoor dining.


The island plays a significant role in protecting these animals for future generations. More than 10,000 animals from Sir Bani Yas Island have been released into wildlife reserves such as the one in the Liwa Desert, on the Abu Dhabi mainland. Originally bred in captivity, the Island's Cheetahs and Striped Hyenas have been successfully re-wilded (learnt how to hunt for themselves); and have had cubs of their own. In addition, several non-indigenous animals including Blackbuck, Emu, Gemsbok and Eland, were relocated as a result of successful breeding programs. As for the marine life that populates the Island's stunning waters, there is an eight kilometer no fishing zone that was put into place while boating activities are carefully managed to conserve sensitive marine habitats.


Another noteworthy conservation program is run at the Al Bustan Zoological Centre in Sharjah. There are 856 animals at the 17 hectare centre. All of them are threatened in the wild as their habitat is being destroyed and they are hunted. Sixty staff members at the centre work tirelessly to ensure that the animals enjoy the serenity of the wild and are protected from extinction.


Please click on the link below for an amazing interactive report on some of the endangered species of animals that thrive in the UAE.




Thus we see that in recent years the UAE government has been engaged in conservation efforts to protect and breed various endangered species. Protection of the UAE's natural environment, both on land and offshore, has long been a major focus of government activity, with the first domestic laws to regulate hunting and protect wildlife having been passed over three decades ago. The UAE is also a party to international conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, and has signed the Law of the Sea Convention.


As quoted in the National on February 20, 2017, Abu Dhabi will increase protected habitats by thousands of square kilometres and rehabilitate dozens of endangered species in a plan to tackle the most pressing environmental issues, besides ensuring water security and pollution control. By 2020, more than 15 % of the emirate's land and 13% of its water will be legally protected natural reserves. The 'Environment Agency Abu Dhabi' plans to triple rehabilitation and breeding programs for endangered animals.


With the governance being sensitive towards environmental conservation, certainly there is hope for the future with regard to preservation and protection of endangered species.



Sources and References


















  • Austria E-gen Ambassador Aaditya Singh
  • recommend


  • says :
    goo and precise report man
    Posted 29-01-2018 23:29

  • says :
    establishment have to figure out the problem and fix it
    Posted 29-01-2018 23:28

Aaditya Singh

  • Aaditya Singh says :
    Thank you Mentor Stephanie. Indeed, we must endeavor to learn and adopt best practices from world over, in order to protect our unique biodiversity.
    Posted 10-12-2017 07:18

  • says :
    Hi, Aaditya! Thank you for your detailed report on endangered species in UAE. Your introduction of governmental efforts, various conservation programs, and their positive effects really shows how taking measures to protect endangered species can make a big difference. I think these examples of successful species protection in UAE can act as grounds for promoting the act of protecting endangered species all around the world, as we now know that a little effort can go a long way. Great work!
    Posted 02-12-2017 01:29

Aaditya Singh

  • Aaditya Singh says :
    Thanks Elizaveta for your comment.
    Posted 23-11-2017 05:18

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