x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Sharjah reserve welcomes birth of endangered gazelles

A group of endangered Damani gazelles released into Al Hafiya nature reserve in Kalba have successfully given birth to five offspring.

SHARJAH // Five endangered Damani gazelles at Al Hafiya nature reserve in Kalba have given birth to their first offspring.

Twenty-nine of the animals were released this month during the launch phase of the Kalba eco-tourism project.

“The births of endangered Damani gazelles on April 4 and 7, followed by the birth of three more gazelles, bring the total number in Al Hafiya protected area from 29 to 34,” said Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, the director general of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) in Sharjah.

The births are considered evidence of the success of the project because it proves the gazelles have adapted to their natural habitat.

The expansion of the herd, Ms Al Suwaidi said, showed Al Hafiya reserve “provided the type of healthy conditions needed to preserve the species’ natural life cycle”.

“We are working now on the redevelopment of the nature reserves in Kalba to preserve the rare biodiversity of the area,” she said. “These areas were once home to rare animal species that became damaged as a result of overfishing and human wrongdoing.”

The Kalba reserve project, located about 15 kilometres south of Fujairah, is the result of a partnership between EPAA and the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).

The project’s aim is to develop a base for sustainable eco-tourism in the area.

The births mark “an important step for the development of the project”, according to Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, chief executive of Shurooq, because its success is entirely dependent on the development of ecological life and conservation of animal and plants in the region.

The Damani gazelle is well adapted to the desert environment. It feeds in the morning on dew-covered plants to compensate for the scarcity of water and can travel long distances in search of water.

Ms Al Suwaidi said EPAA had plans to release more gazelles into Sharjah’s protected areas and that a specialised team had been set up to monitor the animals.

eharnan@thenational.ae