Twenty Arabian Oryx released in Jordan's Shumari Wildlife Reserve

Move aims to create a thriving herd of an animal once hunted to the brink of extinction

The Arabian Oryx being released in Jordan's Shumari Wildlife Reserve. Photo: Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi

The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) has released 20 Arabian Oryx into the Shumari Wildlife Reserve in Jordan.

It is hoped there will soon be a thriving herd of an animal once effectively hunted out of existence in the reserve, and that it will boost awareness about conservation and bolster eco-tourism.

It is part of the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme, which is regarded as one of the world's most successful conservation programmes.

The programme was established in 2007 and has supported the introduction of the Oryx across the Middle East to a point in 2011 where the animal's status in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List went from “threatened” to “vulnerable” in 2011.

This was considered one of the most significant achievements in the field of species reintroduction at a global level.

The Arabian oryx, seen here in the Jordanian reserve, has a white coat that reflects heat and helps lower its body temperature.
Photo: EAD

The latest release comes after a deal between the EAD and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) to develop a herd in the Jordanian reserve.

The reserve is expected to be expanded to ensure there are enough suitable new grazing sites for them to thrive, while an educational centre and eco-tourism programmes will raise awareness.

Photos of the release showed the Arabian oryx, with its distinctive white coat that reflects heat and helps lower its body temperature, roaming across the reserve.

“The programme has undertaken extensive breeding and reintroduction programmes, and so far, more than 1,000 Arabian Oryx have been released across the UAE, Oman and Jordan,” said the EAD's Ahmed Al Hashmi.

“Today, the Arabian Oryx Conservation Programme is considered one of the world’s most successful conservation programmes, which has helped increase the number of Arabian Oryx in the UAE to 10,000, with 5,000 currently located in Abu Dhabi, which is considered the largest group of Arabian Oryx in the world.”

The Shumari Wildlife Reserve is 120 kilometres east of the capital Amman and near the town of Azraq. It was established in 1975, with the support of RSCN and the World Wildlife Fund.

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Updated: February 28, 2022, 10:28 AM