x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Desert denizens

The idea of a barren, lifeless desert is belied by the emergence of a gecko native to the UAE, and other creatures that inhabit this domain.

The UAE's desert continues to prove fertile ground for naturalists and hobbyists alike.

Four years ago, the Arabian Mau, a native species of cat, was identified by the World Cat Federation as a new breed, in the first such certification in a decade. The desert cat has inhabited the Middle East for thousands of years, but only gained attention after migrating in large numbers from sand-dune habitat to urban centres in search of food and shelter.

Another creature, a local subspecies of the common wonder gecko, which is indigenous in Iran and northern Pakistan, has now demanded to be noticed. As The National reported yesterday, beyond the basic facts - the gecko is a solitary, nocturnal creature that lives in sand-dune burrows and has a skin of brilliant orange and yellow - very little light has been shed on the UAE's Teratoscincus scincus since it was discovered 20 years ago.

The idea of a barren, lifeless desert is belied by this little fellow, and the other creatures that inhabit this domain. Footprints in the sand lead us to one remarkable discovery after another.