Muscat: More than 100 animals were released in wildlife reserve in Al Wusta governorate, the Environmental Conservation Office said on Wednesday. The programme included the return of a group of animals belonging to the antelope species (Arabian oryx, Arabian gazelle, Reem gazelle).

The programme aims to return species of animals back to their environment so that they are safe in their natural Omani habitats after having cared for them with a number of endangered animals in the breeding centre. The breeding centre has 2,500 animals of 12 species.

According to the Diwan of Royal Court, “These animals will be tracked and followed via satellite and radio devices to understand their behaviours and the ecosystem in their natural wild environment, which will contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in a scientifically studied manner.”

The inauguration ceremony restoring the animals have been attended by Hussain bin Ali bin Abd Al-Latif, Counsellor and Commissioner of Secretary-General of the Diwan of Royal Court, in the presence of His Excellency the Governor of Al Wusta, members of the State and Shura Councils in the governorate and other officials.

Yasser Al Salami, general manager of Environmental Conservation Office said, “This step comes as a result of a success story after the Arab Oryx Resettlement and Propagation Project in 1978, and a similar project to reproduce Reem gazelle implemented in 2013 in Al Wusta wildlife reserve, as well as the true indicators that demonstrated the concerted national efforts of the institutions and individuals of the Omani society in preserving and protecting the ecological systems and the role of the judicial institutions in the state and applying environmental protection laws to all those who seek to assault the wildlife.”

“Also, raising awareness and environmental education among citizens, residents and visitors has a prominent role in creating principles of environmental balance, and preserving the natural and historical heritage of the region in particular and Oman in general. In addition to the presence of a group of these creatures that are still free roaming the protected lands with a safe haven and it is being followed up on an ongoing basis.” Al Salami added.

Dr Qais Al-Rawahi, Director of the wildlife reserve said, “We are happy with what has been achieved on the territory of the reserve. The initiative to return endangered animals has never been easy, and this achievement has been preceded by great efforts in drawing similar plans for launching, assessing the situation and equipping human cadres and modern means and technologies such as satellite tracking devices, radio devices, digital loops and seminal cameras. Where we aim from the launch process to provide Omani wilds with different types of wildlife in order to improve their breed and diversification, and expand our scientific research by following these animals and understanding their behaviour in their environment. All this makes it easier for us to create accurate databases and register them in the name of Oman globally.”

“We do not forget to support of private institutions, especially the Oman Petroleum Development Company that contributed to the financing of tracking devices for wild animals and the project to construct a water desalination plant, and the Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) for their support in providing awareness about environmental aspects of the reserve.” Al Rawahi explained.

The wildlife reserve is the first ever reserve in the Sultanate established in 1994, after the extinction of the oryx from the wild in the sixties, to return them to their natural habitat. The reserve currently has an area of 2824.3 square kilometres.

The office aims to establish this reserve to conserve natural diversity and rare wildlife and highlight the exceptional scientific and aesthetic values ??of geological and terrestrial formations in the region.

The office also works to develop eco-tourism in the reserve through the implementation of various projects. Thanks to the great efforts made by the centre's organisers, the number of oryx in the reserve increased.
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