Great efforts of the Emirates in the protection of endangered species

Al Khayyat Hall (Abu Dhabi)

The issue of wildlife conservation and development is of great interest in the UAE, which is reflected in the enormous efforts the country has made and the significant achievements it has achieved in this area at the local and global level, starting with the adoption of laws and monitoring their implementation, through the establishment and the expansion of protected areas, and ends with the preservation and multiplication of endangered species and their relocation to their natural distribution areas inside and outside the country.
The state focuses its efforts on achieving environmental sustainability within a legislative and regulatory framework that helps preserve the environment and its natural resources, and prohibits any behavior that could pose a threat to it. It has also adopted several techniques to preserve the environment and different types of organisms.
The country has made many official decisions on the preservation of biological diversity, ratified international conventions related to biological diversity and the environment, and signed regional agreements that promote and preserve biological diversity.
The Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Protection and local authorities for environmental protection, in cooperation with partners from the public and private sectors and international organizations, direct their efforts to work on the protection of the terrestrial and marine environment and the preservation of species and their vital role at the local and global level. .

dr. Sheikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, said: The efforts of the United Arab Emirates in preserving the environment, protecting natural resources and conserving endangered species are clear and there are many achievements in the field of species conservation locally and internationally, as has helped the Agency’s breeding and translocation programs for the Arabian oryx to boost its numbers after it was on the brink of extinction. These successes have exceeded the borders of the UAE and reached Central Africa, the return of the African oryx “Abu Haraba” to its home after it was completely extinct in the wild, in the project The most ambitious program of its kind for the relocation of mammals and the first of its kind to relocate this species of oryx in natural environment in the Republic of Chad since its extinction in the eighties of the last century.
At the local level, Dr Sheikha Al Dhaheri indicated that the Authority, through a network of 19 designated reserves within the Zayed Network of Land and Marine Nature Reserves, in addition to the Al Wathba Sand Dunes Reserve, has fully contributed to the conservation of many natural land and sea habitats in the Emirate of Abu Dabby. Because of their diverse natural habitats rich in biodiversity in terms of the number and density of local plant and animal species, in addition to containing many threatened organisms at local and global levels, these reserves have contributed to the stabilization of various groups of important organisms, such as sea turtles and cows. And this led to an increase in the number of different birds, such as flamingos and houbara, and the stability of their environment, such as coral reefs and mangroves, as well as strengthening the country’s position on the map of global environmental action.

tracking technologies
As part of ongoing efforts to monitor and protect biodiversity in the region, Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri said: Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi researchers conduct and manage many programs to monitor, monitor and assess a wide range of species.
The Authority has relied heavily on the latest tools and technologies in assessing, monitoring and mapping biodiversity in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and satellite tracking and geolocation techniques have been used to understand the movements and migrations of flamingos, dolphins, turtles, falcons and many other species.
The use of remote sensing cameras has also helped to track the types of major mammals and document extremely rare species, such as the sand cat, the Arabian tahr and the Afghan fox. The Arabian oryx census was carried out through aerial surveys, which revealed the presence of nearly a thousand Arabian oryx roaming freely in diverse natural habitats in the Arabian Oryx Reserve, Abu Dhabi’s largest protected area, located on the northeastern edge of the Empty Quarter.
Drone technology has also been used to survey and list large groups of nesting bird species, especially on islands, leading to very accurate results and in a short period of time compared to traditional methods.

Plant protection
dr. Sheikha Al Dhaheri indicated that the Authority provides protection to local wild plant species within their natural environment and through the Zayed Network of Nature Reserves. It is also preserved through a nursery of local plants in the Al Dhafra region, and the produced seedlings are used in various projects of the Administration, such as restoration of some wild habitats and cultivation in nature reserves.
Using modern high-resolution satellite imagery followed by ground verification operations, the Authority has been able to carry out an accurate census and inventory of every natural Ghaf and Samar tree across the Emirate, through which more than 54,000 Ghaf trees and 43,000 Samar trees have been recorded. The first of its kind in the country.
The commission also established and equipped the Center for Plant Genetic Resources, which is a specialized center and the first of its kind in the region – with the aim of long-term preservation of seeds and tissues of wild plants and their genetic material, as well as carrying out genetic sequencing operations for them – and with storage capacity of more than 20,000 samples, making it one of the world’s largest centers.

Laws and legislation
Al Dhaheri indicated that in order to achieve the protection and conservation of various wild species, the Authority has been working on passing laws and legislation aimed at protecting species and habitats, such as laws regulating hunting and grazing. It also advocates the implementation of international agreements concerning the protection of endangered species, the most important of which is the International Convention on Trade in Rare and Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).

international efforts
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Fund for the Conservation of Living Species, praised the efforts of the United Arab Emirates in achieving environmental sustainability and conserving natural resources locally and globally. She also indicated that the Mohammed bin Zayed Fund for the Conservation of Living Beings embodies the firm commitment of both the government and the people of the UAE to the conservation of natural heritage, as it focuses on empowering species conservationists in their efforts to protect endangered species around the world, whether it is through the preparation of camera traps , remotely to assess the remaining number of animals in an area or to track birds via satellite in order to discover their nesting sites and thus work to protect them. Al-Mubarak indicated that the Living Species Preservation Fund provides financial support to scientists and people who work passionately to protect species, as many grantees have succeeded in rediscovering lost species, discovering new species and reducing threats to countless other species. Al-Mubarak stated that since its inception in 2008, the Fund has supported more than 2,500 conservation operations in 160 countries, benefiting more than 1,500 endangered species and subspecies. It also awarded grants intended during the COVID-19 pandemic as a relief measure to offset the loss of income conservation organizations have suffered due to bans, closures and travel restrictions, allowing conservation organizations to continue paying basic costs such as rent, utility bills and staff salaries.

Success stories
Mohamed Saleh Al-Baydani, Director General of the International Houbara Conservation Foundation, indicated that breeding the houbara in captivity is not easy due to its wide international distribution among resident and migratory groups, along with the difficulty of domestication and non-breeding outside its remote desert habitats far from human activity.
Al-Baydani said: Success was not achieved except after repeated efforts in research and development and exploitation of the latest technologies in artificial insemination, satellite monitoring, development of protection systems and legislation, support for sustainable use, development of local communities and their involvement in efforts to preserve Houbara , in cooperation with the expansion countries in large parts of the region, Asia and North Africa.
He pointed out that the Houbara Captive Breeding Program is one of the tributaries of the national and international legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may his soul rest in peace, who established the Houbara Conservation Program in Abu Dhabi in 1977, with a comprehensive and far-reaching vision of preserving the balance of nature and sustainability of heritage and life. wild.
And the General Director of the Fund stated that the total production of the Ear Preservation Program in Abu Dhabi, which the Fund manages, amounted to 706 thousand and 284 birds, of which 340 thousand and 527 birds were harvested in the United Arab Emirates, while the total number of birds bats that were released by the program reached 423 thousand and 223 individuals in 17 years. countries since 1998, including 98 thousand and 182 birds in the Emirates from 2004 to 2022. As for North African killer whales, Morocco witnessed the highest release into the wild, reaching 189 thousand and 109 birds from the North African Houbara during the period from 1998 to 2021, along with Egypt and Libya, Algeria and Mauritania.
In 2020, we also managed to use artificial insemination technology to breed the Arabian houbara for the first time in the world, which represents an important addition to efforts to conserve endangered species and heralds the possibility of the return of this bird to its habitats in the Arabian Peninsula and the African coast.

dr. Rabih Rustom, director of academic quality and associate professor of water and environmental engineering at Heriot-Watt University in Dubai, referred to the efforts that the country is making in the field of environmental protection and various types of organisms.
He said: The United Arab Emirates is recognized for achieving the protection of marine organisms by launching many initiatives, implementing policies and legislation and investing efforts to achieve a sustainable development agenda.
He pointed to the importance of the National Biodiversity Strategy, which includes five strategic guidelines and twenty-one national goals, which are formulated in accordance with the UAE Vision 2021, the Aichi Biodiversity Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals, and in line with national priorities.
dr. Rustom explained that the Cities Biodiversity Index is a self-assessment tool to measure and monitor progress in efforts to conserve biodiversity. For example, but not limited to, the Abu Dhabi Biodiversity Index will help measure efforts to reduce the rate of biodiversity decline in urban ecosystems and ultimately measure the environmental impact of cities. Consequently, cities will use this indicator as a benchmark to strengthen their leadership role and global position in promoting and conserving biodiversity.

international obligations
Rustom said: The United Arab Emirates has issued many official decisions to conserve biodiversity. It has ratified international conventions related to biodiversity and the environment and signed regional agreements that promote and preserve biodiversity. It has issued laws that prohibit dumping waste into the water, especially the hundreds of tankers operating in the area.

Plant protection
He pointed to the efforts that the state is undertaking to establish a database of local plant species, and made it available to the public in order to preserve biological diversity and protect native plants, and for this a platform called “Grass” was provided. “Apple Store” and “Google Play”, where it aims These projects and initiatives aim to provide all kinds of support for plant conservation and to identify and classify all their genetic resources, especially palm trees, in a way that helps to increase the contribution of palm cultivation and production dates to the country’s gross domestic product.

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