Abu Dhabi releases red list of at-risk species

Of 244 assessed, 74 are 'threatened'

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Threatened or endangered species in Abu Dhabi have been detailed for the first time in a report.

The Abu Dhabi Red List of Wildlife Species assesses the threat status of the emirate’s terrestrial and marine creatures.

The report by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi follows a project to understand the risk faced by groups of species.

A total of 244 species were assessed, including 101 plants, 49 birds, nine marine species, 32 terrestrial mammals, 25 invertebrates, 26 reptiles and two amphibians. Out of the 244 species, 74 were placed under threat categories such as critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable.

‘‘Abu Dhabi has a rich diversity of species and has some of the most important species," said Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, the agency's secretary general.

"Their populations are effectively protected by the agency through managing the largest network in the region of protected areas to conserve endangered species and their natural habitats. However, understanding the risk and evaluating the threats faced by them as well as other species will help us better protect them.’’

Among the at-risk species are the following:

- Blanford's fox (Vulpes cana) is critically endangered

- Arabian tahr (Arabitragus jayakari) is critically endangered

- Crab plover (Dromas ardeola) is vulnerable

- Umbrella thorn acacia (Vachellia tortilis) is endangered

- Indian Ocean humbpack dolphin (Sousa plumbea) is vulnerable

- Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is endangered

Ahmed Al Hashmi, acting executive director for the agency's terrestrial and marine biodiversity sector, said the report "has been long overdue, and it is an important addition to our understanding of the threats to the species in line with the global standards of IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature]".

He said the emirate's list will complement the country's national red list, kept by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

Protected areas and habitat zones

In one of the largest wildlife reintroduction programmes in the world, the agency has reintroduced species that were on the brink of extinction such as the Arabian Oryx and Scimitar-horned Oryx. Abu Dhabi now houses the largest herd of Arabian Oryx in the world.

The Sheikh Zayed Network of 13 terrestrial and six marine protected areas, managed by the agency, provides protection to some of the most threatened and important terrestrial and marine species and their habitats.

The agency also has a nursery which can produce nearly 500,000 plants a year and has so far propagated more than 70 native plant species, many of which are threatened.

They are used to restore habitats across the emirate.

The agency has rehabilitated important plant species such as Al Sarh, Ghaf and Samar trees in their natural habitat to ensure that they remain part of the emirate’s landscape and its cultural heritage.

Dr Salim Javed, acting director for terrestrial biodiversity and manager of the Red List Project, said: “With 30 per cent of the total assessed species classified as threatened, the Abu Dhabi Red List will help the agency to prioritise conservation actions for some of the most threatened species in the emirate, which may include developing more systematic monitoring as well species-specific conservation action plans in order to protect them.”

Updated: September 21, 2021, 11:20 AM