JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has answered the call of nature by releasing some of its most revered endangered native species to their ancestral home in the Sharaan AlUla Nature Reserve.
The 20 Arabian oryx, 50 sand gazelles and 10 Nubian ibexes were released by the Royal Commission for AlUla on Thursday to mark World Wildlife Day.
Commenting on the animal release programme, Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the commission, said that by supporting ecosystems and wildlife, “our teams are unleashing the power of nature”.
He added that the program is a living example of the commission’s commitment to Saudi sustainability goals, as well as those of the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative.
In accordance with global conservation guidelines, the commission will monitor the animals with satellite tracking collars, camera traps and other high-tech tools.
Ahmed Al-Malki, the commission’s director of nature reserves, said the release program will be expanded in the coming years as part of a long-term goal of reintroducing 12 native species by 2035.
Sharaan Nature Reserve is located in the eastern part of AlUla Governorate. In total, the commission creates six reserves covering approximately 12,400 square kilometres.
It is also collaborating with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to develop a “protected area network” plan for the reserves to ensure sustainable adaptive management, allow movement of species and improve resilience. to climate change.
Saudi animal reserves where endangered animals such as the Arabian oryx are housed include the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Center for Wildlife Research in Taif and the Prince Mohammed Al-Sudairy Center for Wildlife Research. breeding of Reem Gazelles in Al-Qassim.
The Prince Saud Al-Faisal Center was established over 35 years ago on an area of approximately 35 square kilometers. Today, the desert nature reserve is fenced and surrounded by Talh trees and wild grasses. Houbara and Arabian oryx, two important endangered species, are cared for at the centre.
Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture and CEO of the National Center for Wildlife Development, Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli, last month inspected the King Khalid Wildlife Research Center in Al-Thumama to check on the progress of breeding and relocation programs for endangered species. native species.
He also inaugurated a new veterinary clinic and research laboratory after attending a presentation on the center. The Minister’s visit included antelope breeding units, oryx and mountain ibex units, and a review of a rehabilitation area. He also released 20 goitre antelopes in the rehabilitation area.
In December 2020, the Minister of Culture and Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, established a global fund to protect the Arabian leopard from extinction, with the aim of supporting the population of leopards and their prey, and to protect their natural habitat. in Sharaan Nature Reserve.
Princess Reema bint Bandar, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, launched the non-profit foundation Catmosphere to raise awareness of the many endangered cat species around the world, including the Arabian leopard.
The Kingdom also works closely with Panthera, which is dedicated to conserving the world’s wild cat species.
Last month, Saudi Arabia declared February 10 “Arabian Leopard Day” in a bid to raise awareness for the endangered big cat.
The move, which was announced by the Council of Ministers last month, is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to protect the species, now listed as critically endangered, from extinction.
The Arabian leopard is the top predator in Saudi Arabia and plays a major role in the kingdom’s culture. But overhunting and a lack of natural prey means there are now fewer than 200 left in the wild.
Meanwhile, 10 billion mangrove trees will be planted across Saudi Arabia as part of the Saudi Green Initiative launched last year with the aim of tackling climate change, reducing carbon emissions and improving the environment.
The initiative is expected to “green the desert” and rehabilitate 40 million hectares of land in the coming decades.
A study is underway to develop a tree planting master plan, which will help improve air quality, reduce sandstorms, combat desertification and lower temperatures in nearby areas.
Saudi Arabia is also helping the Middle East and Africa region to protect the environment, reduce emissions and strengthen regional coordination.
Following an invitation from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, leaders from the Middle East and Africa, as well as international environmental and climate change leaders, met last year for the first Green Summit in the Middle East in the Saudi capital.
The forum reviewed several targeted programs and projects announced by the Kingdom to help achieve the goals of the Middle East Green Initiative.
Ambitious green plans will support efforts and cooperation across the region to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions through natural solutions and adaptations.
This includes planting 50 billion trees in the region, equivalent to 5% of the global reforestation target and the most extensive program of its kind in the world, according to a statement from the Middle East Green Initiative summit.