The Wadi Wurayah National Park in Fujairah has been indefinitely closed to the public in an attempt to rehabilitate the site and its inhabitants, following littering, graffiti, destruction of resources and poaching by visitors.
Wadi Wurayah is the first national park in the UAE and a wetland of international importance recognised by the Ramsar Convention. It was established under law no. 2 in 2009 and is the country’s first protected mountain, and one of the few permanent freshwater sources in the UAE. More than 500 species have been documented as living in the wadi - including more than 70 species of birds, dozens of reptiles and mammals, plus fish, amphibians, and plants - of which at least 72 species are considered new to science.
Access to the site was shut yesterday by Crown Prince of Fujairah HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi.
Calling for vigorous steps to conserve the habitat, he said: “As we move into the future, we must protect our natural heritage for the good of our people. “The park is a precious symbol of our respect for our past and our hopes for the future.”
He directed Fujairah Municipality and Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF) to manage Wadi Wurayah National Park as “a regional model for nature conservation”.
The site, home to the only waterfall in the UAE, will remain sealed off until infrastructure can be established to protect the wildlife and water resources. Litter, mostly from picnics, can be seen everywhere.
Sixty per cent of the mammal species recorded in the area are of international or national concern, including the Arabian tahr, the mountain gazelle, the caracal lynx and Blanford’s fox. It is one of the world’s last three remaining strongholds of the Arabian tahr.
The park is also a hotspot for dragonflies, and recent surveys show that 22 of the 30 known dragonfly and damselfly species in the UAE have been recorded at the site. A species called Urothemis thomasi, new to the UAE, was spotted earlier this year. According to International Union for Conservations of Nature data, it has not been recorded anywhere since 1957 and was thought to be extinct.
Ida Tillisch, director general of EWS-WWF, told 7DAYS: “Some of these are species that no one in the world knew existed, and the wadi is the only home to some of them.
The human footprint has been harsh. Unfortunately if it is not properly managed, it can take its toll on nature.” More....