EAD and UNEP launch IRIS-3 at World Urban Forum with a mission to transform state-of-the-environment reporting towards sustainable development

Abu Dhabi, February 12, 2020: The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will see the two organisations work together on a project to develop a vital herd of Arabian oryx in the Shumari Wildlife Reserve in Jordan. 

The project, which will be managed by EAD and implemented by RSCN, aims to release 60 Arabian oryx in the Shumari Wildlife Reserve over next two years. The project is expected to improve the genetic structure of the existing herd of 68 oryx. The Shumari Wildlife Reserve will also be expanded to ensure there are enough suitable grazing sites for the Arabian oryx, by rehabilitating land outside the boundaries of the reserve. 

The MoU signing took place on the sidelines of the 10th World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi and was signed by Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of the EAD and His Excellency Yahya Khalid, Director General of RSCN. 

The project is part of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme which was launched in 2007 and aims to provide large sanctuaries within the historical range and create a self-sustaining population that can roam freely in their natural habitat under effective and long-term management. 

HE Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri said: “The Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme is part of Abu Dhabi's vision to restore this species to its natural distribution in the region. During the past years, the programme contributed to enhancing the numbers of Oryx in the wild, resulting in changing their status from “Endangered” to “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011, which is considered one of the most important achievements in the field of species conservation at the global level. 

HE Al Dhaheri said "Since the launch in 2007, we have undertaken extensive breeding and reintroduction programmes, where so far, more than 1,000 Arabian Oryx have been released across the UAE, Oman and Jordan. Today, the Arabian Oryx Conservation is considered as one of the world’s most successful conservation programmes, which helped to increase the number of Arabian Oryx in the UAE to 10,000, of which 5,000 are in Abu Dhabi - the largest group of Arabian Oryx in the world". 

HE Yehya Khaled, Director General of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), said: “This project will contribute greatly to diversifying the genetic make-up of the Arabian oryx herd in the Shumari Wildlife Reserve. The reserve has always had a pivotal role in the reintroduction programmes for the species and we value the support of the UAE and the government of Abu Dhabi in nature conservation efforts at the regional and global level.”

EAD and the RSCN will also develop an education center and curriculum to help visitors and school students learn more about the Arabian Oryx conservation initiatives. Activities such as clubs, environmental camps and events that involve the local community in various stages of reintroduction programmes will raise awareness further. 

The Shumari Wildlife Reserve located near the town of Azraq in Jordan is 120 km east of the capital Amman. Established in 1975 with the support of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund, the Reserve is the first nature reserve in Jordan. The reserve witnessed the release of the Arabian Oryx in 1978 and is a prime Arabian Oryx habitat.
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