By Kyle Sinclair
ABU DHABI // Al Ain Zoo has hailed the success of its breeding and reintroduction programme for the Arabian oryx.
Following the near extinction of the species in the 1970s, the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed, instructed officials to put in place programmes to breed more Arabian oryx in an effort to preserve the species and highlight its cultural importance to the country.
The zoo’s efforts have led to a change in the classification of the animal, which was declared “extinct in the wild”, to “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species.
“Al Ain Zoo has adopted several conservation programmes highly focused on captive management and breeding, propagation, and reintroduction of endangered species such as the Arabian oryx,” said Muna Al Dhaheri, the zoo’s head of conservation and education.
The Arabian oryx suffered greatly from poaching, urbanisation and the loss of desert areas with adequate plants and shade.
Ms Al Dhaheri said the zoo participated in the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi’s reintroduction programme for the Arabian oryx in 2007.
“Today, Al Ain Zoo is home to a significant number of healthy Arabian oryx and was also successful in achieving a gender balance among the animals, which is usually difficult to accomplish when breeding animals in captivity,” she said.