For the Omanis, protecting wildlife and
maintaining their natural habitat is nothing new,
for wildlife reserves were once to be found in
some areas of Oman. Reserves allowed wild species
to find grazing even in the most severe drought
conditions and, at the same time provided a
sanctuary from hunters. Today Oman has seven
formally designated protected areas for
conservation of wild fauna and flora.
The Arabian oryx is perhaps the best known
of Oman's wild animals. Other important species
Arabian leopard. Gone from most of the
region the Arabian leopard still survives in the
remote mountains of southern Oman. Modern
techniques of camera-trapping and satellite
collars have meant that the ecology of this shy
and very secretive animal has been studied for the
first time. The leopard is usually solitary only
coming together with another animals for breeding.
It is catholic in its diet but studies have shown
that the Nubian ibex and rock hyrax form the bulk
of its diet. Jebel Samhan Nature Reserve provides
important sanctuary for the leopard, Arabia's
largest of cats.
Arabian gazelle. The mature female gazelle
weighs between 10 and 15 kgs. The male has thick
horns while the female's horns are finer and
straighter. Gazelles browse on shrubs and graze
The largest population is in the Arabian Oryx
Sanctuary and numbers over 10,000 and is the
largest single population in the region.
Reem gazelle (sand gazelle). This is a less
common species and prefers the sandy terrain at
the edges of the Empty Quarter. In contrast to the
Arabian gazelle, the reem gazelle gives birth to
twins. Like the oryx, the reem gazelle can cover
long distances searching for new pastures.
Arabian tahr. This goat-like creature
occurs primarily in Oman with just a few animals
in the area of the Oman-United Arab Emirates
border. It lives at altitudes of above 1000 metres
where, unlike the drought tolerant oryx, it is
dependent on small freshwater seepages.
The tahr live in small groups but at least once a
year the males come together in a 'rut' to fight
and compete for females. In the Wadi A' Serin
Reserve the tahr are protected and monitored by a
ranger force recruited from the local people.
Nubian ibex. Also a member of the goatlike
family of animals the Nubian ibex is found in the
Arabian Oryx Sanctuary and in the Jebel Samhan
Nature Reserve. It does not occur in northern Oman
where the Arabian tahr is found.
The ibex is a mountain animal that lives in small
groups for most of the year. However, during the
annual 'rut' groups of up to 30 animals come
together with large adult males fighting for the
right to breed.
Oman is also home to other mammals including the
Blanfords fox, Ruppels sand fox, red fox, caracal
lynx, wildcat, sandcat, Brandt's hedgehog,
Ethiopian hedgehog, Indian-crested porcupine,
genet, whitetailed mongoose, Arabian wolf, striped
hyena, rock hyrax as well as numerous rodents.
The hunting, killing or capture of all wildlife
species is illegal in Oman and offenders face
sentence of up to five years imprisonment and
fines of RO 5,000. This demonstrates the
Sultanate's commitment to its wildlife.
In addition, the Sultanate ratified in 1994 the
Convention for Biological Diversity - which is a
global commitment to the conservation of wild
animals and plants.
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