Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Renewal of Arabian Fauna

Captive breeding programs have seen some species come back from the brink of extinction. The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi has recently announced they are ready to release the Arabian Oryx, known locally as the 'Al Maha', back into the wild (link to ABC Environment Feature Article), and local nature reserves such as the Ajloun Forest Reserve have been acting to reintroduce other species such as Roe Deer which had become locally extinct in Jordan (see The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, Jordan, Website).

The stone structures known as Kites are believed to have been traditionally used for hunting these local ungulates (hoofed mammals) of Arabia, including gazelle, deer, oryx and onager, as well as ostrich. We know the wild population dwindled rapidly in the early 20th century due to human and environmental factors, such as hunting and reduction of natural habitat. Accessing the impact on the population caused by hunting using Kites is more difficult to access as no sites have been found directly linking Kites with the slaughter of these animals, but an excavation of a fourth millenium BC deposit of bones found in North-eastern Syria published in an article in PNAS may provide some insight into how hunting using Kites may have impacted the Persian Gazelle population in antiquity.

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