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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Conservation efforts in Abu Dhabi mean new hope for endangered species

Rare orchids, a dwarf palm, the Arabian Sand Cat, Humpback dolphins and a rare Oryx all thriving

The Arabian sand cat, pictured at the Al Ain Zoo, is one of the desert’s more reclusive inhabitants. Lauren Lancaster / The National
The Arabian sand cat, pictured at the Al Ain Zoo, is one of the desert’s more reclusive inhabitants. Lauren Lancaster / The National

There is some encouraging news on the conservation of wildlife in the 2017 Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi report released on Sunday.

A yearlong project to study the Arabian Sand Cat reported 27 sightings in the Baynouna area, while a major census found 701 Humpback Dolphins, meaning that the world’s largest single number of the species live in the waters around Abu Dhabi.

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Related: Report: Protecting air and water quality top most serious environmental challenges in Abu Dhabi

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Satellite tracking of the rare spotted eagle followed their migration path through the UAE, showing that they rested here in Spring and Autumn on a journey of 19,000 kilometres.

A chance discovery recorded extremely rare 10 Helleborine Orchids (Epipactis veratrifolia), the only species of orchid native to the UAE.

Helleborine Orchid (Epipactis veratrifolia), the only species of orchid native to the UAE.
Helleborine Orchid (Epipactis veratrifolia), the only species of orchid native to the UAE.

The numbers of Hawksbill turtle nests were only just short of the record total from 2010, while the agency was able to rescue, rehabilitate and release 56 yearling, juvenile and adult sea turtles as well as 51 critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles, three endangered Green Turtles and two Loggerheads.

A conservation project for the Scimitar horned Oryx, declared extinct in the wild in 2010, saw animals bred in the UAE released into a reserve in Chad last year, with the birth of the first calf already recorded.

A conservation project for the Scimitar horned Oryx saw animals bred in the UAE released into a reserve in Chad last year.
A conservation project for the Scimitar horned Oryx saw animals bred in the UAE released into a reserve in Chad last year.

One of its nurseries has also successfully propagated the Little Dwarf Palm from the one surviving plant and is now ready to return the species to its natural habitat on Jebel Hafeet.

The Agency says that it has also met targets for increasing areas of both terrestrial and marine areas, now covering 15.43 per cent and 13.45 per cent of each, respectively.

Efforts have also continued to monitor algae blooms, a potential health hazard that can also damage desalination plants. The EAD is using 20 new buoys that can monitor sea water quality and detect conditions likely to cause algae.

The Agency also says it responded to 17 major incidents during the year, including “Red Tide” algae invasions, achieving: “A 100 per cent record in terms of rapid response and effective management.”

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Read more:

Abu Dhabi bid to ensure survival of rare species

World’s largest population of Indian Ocean humpback dolphins found in Abu Dhabi