Al Ain Zoo discusses action plans for conservation of Dama Gazelle

Al Ain Zoo discusses action plans for conservation of Dama Gazelle

AL AIN, 13th December, 2018 (WAM) -- After five years of analysis and research, Al Ain Zoo yesterday concluded its second roundtable workshop dedicated to conserving the critically endangered Dama Gazelle, in collaboration with the IUCN Species Survival Commission and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, with the support of the Sahara Conservation Fund in Chad and the Al Bustan Zoological Centre.

The workshop was organised by Al Ain Zoo in order to discuss the action plans, procedures and objectives for protecting the Dama Gazelle. After a catastrophic decline in numbers, it has been estimated to around 200 Dama Gazelles remain around the world.

Speaking at the opening of the session, Ghanim Mubarak Al Hajeri, Director-General of the Zoo & Aquarium Public Institution in Al Ain, said, "We seek global leadership in conserving endangered animals in general and Dama Gazelles in particular, which has now become one of the rarest animals in the wild. Since we have remained committed towards conserving nature, we are keen to be present at the centre of efforts to conserve this species and help it multiply, placing our assets within the scientific and safe field research in this area."

This was followed by a speech by Dr. Thomas Rabeil, Regional Programme Officer for Sahara Conservation Fund in Chad, during which he referred to the history of the decline in numbers of Dama Gazelles in the wild, as well as other endangered animals such as addax and the lappet-faced vulture, amongst others. Mark Craig, Director of Life Sciences at Al Ain Zoo, referred to the Zoo’s efforts in preserving wildlife in collaboration with its global partners, as well as the specific threats which affect the Dama Gazelle and the expectations of the workshop to help in planning the preservation of the species.

The workshop was held for three days to discuss the key issues for conserving the Dama Gazelle and included discussions, meetings, research and joint work papers. In addition, the experts that attended were reviewing the successes achieved over the past five years since the last workshop was held in 2013. They also discussed the expected risks and proposed action plans to keep the red-listed Dama Gazelle from becoming totally extinct in the wild.

The workshop included a tour of Al Ain Zoo, Al Ain Safari and the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, showing the delegates the Al Ain Zoo’s accomplishments in the field of wildlife conservation, sustainability and a reflection of the UAE heritage.

The roundtable event was attended by a panel of global experts from the Republics of Chad, Niger and Senegal, which are the natural habitat of the surviving Dama Gazelles. This is considered a qualitative shift in Dama Gazelle conservation because these countries have witnessed both negative and positive experiences that will be useful in future experiments. They will also help to identify the best areas to release the Dama Gazelles and ensure a safe environment within these areas.

There are currently more than 100 Dama Gazelles at Al Ain Zoo, who are making great efforts to grow their numbers and release them to ensure the continuity of these species. In addition, Al Ain Zoo supports the Sahara Conservation Fund in Chad in conducting research aimed at studying the conditions of Dama Gazelles in their natural habitat, monitor their numbers and protect them against other possible threats.

The workshop was aimed at formulating a series of well-prepared action plans over the coming years, to identify and mitigate against expected survival risks and discuss the successes of the mutually accomplished breeding and rescue programmes.