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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

The UAE’s conservation efforts are gold

Unlike many animal sanctuaries that are meant for entertainment, Dubai Safari Park will help preserve species

The latest undertaking by the Dubai Safari Park will only reinforce the UAE's position as a conservation hub. Victor Besa for The National
The latest undertaking by the Dubai Safari Park will only reinforce the UAE's position as a conservation hub. Victor Besa for The National

Many animal lovers and conservationists continue to insist that animals solely belong in the wild. What they often fail to take into account, however, is the fact that the boundaries of their natural habitats are shrinking by the day and that animals are increasingly coming under threat by poaching, global warming and conflict.

This explains why the Dubai Safari Park, which recently imported older elephants and other animals, will play a critical role in the conservation of endangered species, while allowing residents to enhance their knowledge of the animal world.

As Timothy Husband, the park’s technical director, recently told The National, the desert elephants brought in from Namibia will not be used for rides, but to enhance breeding and care facilities. The animals will either be sent over to other zoos or will be part of an international breeding programme. “Some of them are critically endangered and we breed up the numbers to either send over to other zoos to help with new genetics or they go to a release programme,” he said. To the satisfaction of many, it will also serve as a sanctuary of exotic animals rescued from illegal private collections.

Such explanations should not be necessary considering that the UAE has always been at the forefront of wildlife conservation. The oryx, for example, is one of several species that have been brought back from the brink of extinction in Abu Dhabi. A similar initiative has saved the houbara bustard population.

As worldwide animal populations continue to decline and children have less direct contact with animals, projects such as Dubai Safari Park will only serve to enhance awareness about endangered species.