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Expedition report: Ways of the desert: conserving Arabian oryx, Gordon’s wildcat and other species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, United Arab Emirates (January 2017)

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Abstract The successful collaboration between Biosphere Expeditions and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR), initiated in 2012, continues with citizen scientists collecting data for a week from 21 to 28 January 2017. Data gathered alerted the DDCR management to several conservation issues and also allowed for informed, fact-based management decisions to be made in a showcase of how the work of citizen scientists can aid the efforts of conservation professionals. The 2017 expedition conducted quadrant surveys, circular observations, camera trapping for animals and a vegetation survey. The expedition observed the following target species during a quadrant survey: 345 Arabian oryx (Oryx leuoryx), 360 mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella), 69 sand gazelle (Gazella marica), 2 red fox (Vulpes vulpes arabica), 5 Arabian hare (Lepus capensis) and 3 pharaoh eagle owls (Bubo ascalaphus). In 2017, an emphasis on collecting good data from circular observations meant very few counts/observations at the feedspots and therefore a greatly reduced final count of Arabian oryx when compared to both the 2016 Biosphere Expeditions count and the DDCR count. This is also reflected in the predicted distribution of Arabian oryx across the DDCR, with fewer areas with a high concentration of animals, not reflecting the true distribution of the reserve’s oryx herd. However, this methodology greatly improved the counts and predicted distribution of the Arabian gazelle, reflecting their natural behaviour of smaller family groups, which are more widely distributed and with very few congregations of large groups. The counts of sand gazelle were consistent with the previous year’s count and can be considered an accurate estimate of the population within the DDCR. Their predicted distribution has contracted from that of 2016 with some areas predicted not to have any sand gazelle. However, the hotspots were consistently in the southwest of the DDCR and correlated to a concentration of individuals at the Tawi Ghadier irrigated area. In 2017, Biosphere Expeditions for the first time collected data on the distribution of vegetation, in particular large shrubs and trees. Nearly 10,000 plants were counted during the circular observations. The dominant species was fire bush (Leptadenia pyrotechnica) (8,888), the congregated ghaf trees (Procera cineria) (823), date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) (140) and the more widely distributed Sodom’s apple (Calotropis procera) (112). Predicted distribution of the two shrub species (L..pyrotechnica & C. procera) have provided the DDCR management with the most accurate picture to date of the distribution of these two indicator species for the reserve’s habitat. The 2017 survey of red fox dens showed a 59% reduction in the number of active dens, most of which were abandoned, and a 25% reduction in inactive dens, of which only two dens became active. There were, however, 44 new den sites (14 active, 21 inactive and nine abandoned) discovered in 2017 compared to only seven new sites found in 2016. Continued monitoring of all den locations is recommended on future expeditions. The Arabian red fox will need to be closely monitored due to the sudden reduction in active dens. If any recently deceased foxes are found in the DDCR, the opportunity to perform a post mortem should be undertaken to ascertain the cause of death, as disease could be a potential cause of the sudden decline. The success of trapping for medium-sized mammals is expected to be limited over the short period of the expedition and as such is unlikely to reflect the true status of the target species, Gordon’s wildcat (Felis silvestris gordoni) and sand fox (Vulpes rueppellii), within the DDCR. A study over a longer period, including the different seasons and a sustained trapping effort, would provide data that could help in assessing the population status of these species, but this is outside the scope of a short-term citizen science expedition. However, data collected from any capture, including size, weight and sex, add useful data to the growing database of these target species within the DDCR. Of the 18 camera traps set, there were two traps that failed to produce any meaningful photographs. This resulted in a total of 76 trapping days that captured 4,064 images of which 3,312 were live images; 2,363 of these contained naturally occurring fauna and 713 contained humans or vehicles. This included seven photos of the nocturnal Arabian hare and over 270 records of the Arabian red fox. However, the rare and cryptic species within the DDCR, namely Gordon’s wildcat and sand fox, were once again not recorded. The DDCR management’s major challenge is the increase of the ungulate population. Approval has been obtained from UAE authorities to translocate Arabian oryx from the reserve to other protected areas and zoological collections within the region and this will alleviate some of the pressure of a growing population on the environment. The reintroduction of an apex predator to restore a natural ecological process putting top-down pressure on the ungulate population will continue to be explored to hopefully find a socially acceptable solution, as similar reintroductions elsewhere have also had numerous other benefits to the function of the ecosystem. الملخص مازال التعاون الناجح بين محمية دبي الصحراوية وبرنامج بعثات المحيط الحيوي مستمرا منذ بدء البرنامج في العام 2012م حيث استمرت الدراسة بتجميع البيانات الحقلية بواسطة متطوعين من غير ذوي الاختصاص لمدة أسبوع من 21 يناير 2017م وحتى 28 يناير 2017م. حيث أيدت البيانات التي تم تجميعها للعديد من الملاحظات والأنشطة من قبل إدارة محمية دبي الصحراوية وكذلك ساعدت المحمية في الحصول على العديد من المعلومات المفيدة واتخاذ قرارات صحيحة والتي تصب في صالح المحمية والتي بدورها ساهمت في تعزيز التعاون المثمر بين المتطوعين المهتمين بالحياة البرية والباحثين العاملين بالمحمية. أجرت بعثة المحيط الحيوي لعام 2017م العديد من المسوحات العلمية منها ما هو باستخدام المربعات، أو عن طريق تسجيل المشاهدات بصورة دائرية، وكمائن الكاميرات لتسجيل الحيوانات، بالإضافة لمسح النباتات البرية الصحراوية. تم تسجيل البيانات التالية من خلال دراسة مسوحات المربعات، حيث تم تسجيل 345 فرد من المها العربي (Oryx leuoryx)، 360 غزال الأدمي (Gazella gazella)، 69 فرد من غزال الريم (Gazella marica)، اثنان من الثعالب الحمراء (Vulpes Vulpes arabica)، خمسة أرانب برية (Lepus capensis)، بالإضافة إلى عدد ثلاث من البوم الصحراوي (Bubo ascalaphus). أنصب التركيز في عام 2017 على تجميع العديد من البيانات الهامة من خلال تسجيل الملاحظات بالطريقة الدائرية مما أدي إلى تسجيل عدد قليل جدا من المشاهدات والملاحظات لأعداد المها العربي في مواقع التغذية مقارنة بكل البعثات السابقة وبالأخص بعام 2016م مما أدي إلى تغير في التوزيع المتوقع لقطيع المها بالمحمية مع وجود أعداد أقل بالمناطق ذات التركيز العالي بالمحمية مما لا يعكس التوزيع الحقيقي لقطعان المها داخل محمية دبي الصحراوية. وبالرغم من ذلك، فإن هذه المنهجية قد حسنت بشكل كبير التعداد الحقيقي والتنبؤ المتوقع للغزال العربي مما يعكس أسلوب وسلوك الغزال الطبيعي للمجموعات العائلية الأصغر المنتشرة بصورة أكبر من المجموعات الكبيرة. في تلك السنة 2017م تم تسجيل نفس الأعداد لغزال الرمال مقارنة مع الأعداد المسجلة في 2016م مما يمكن اعتباره تقديرا دقيقاً لتوزيع غزال الرمال ضمن نطاق محمية دبي الصحراوية بتسجيل بعض النقاط الساخنة في الجنوب الغربي من المحمية. في عام 2017 تم لأول مرة البدء في تجميع بيانات ومشاهدات توزيع النباتات بالمحمية مثال الأشجار والشجيرات الكبيرة حيث تم حصر أعداد ما يقرب من 10,000 فرد من النباتات من خلال تسجيل المشاهدات في المواقع التي اعتمدت الطريقة الدائرية. كانت الأنواع السائدة هي شجيرات المرخ (Leptadenia pyrotechnica) بأعداد تتراوح إلى (9,000شجيرة)، وأشجار الغاف (Procera cineria) (823 شجرة)، وأشجار النخيل (Phoenix dactylifera) (140 شجرة)، وشجيرة العشار (Calotropis procera) (112 شجرة) ولقد ساعدت البيانات التي تم تجميعها عن شجيرات المرخ وشجيرات العشار المحمية لتقدير ادق توزيع لتلك الشجيرات داخل نطاق المحمية والبيئات المناسبة لكلا النوعين. أظهر المسح الذي أجري عام 2017م لأوكار الثعالب الحمراء انخفاضا في عدد الاوكار النشطة بنسبة 59% مقارنة بالأعوام السابقة حيث تم التخلي عن معظم تلك الأوكار النشطة، وانخفاض بنسبة 25% في الاوكار الغير نشطة والتي لم ينشط منها سوي وكرين أثنين فقط خلال 2017م. مع ذلك، في 2017 تم اكتشاف 44 وكر جديد (14 وكر نشط و21 وكر غير نشط وكذلك 9 أوكار مهجورة) مقارنة بسبعة مواقع جديدة تم اكتشافها والعثور عليها في العام 2016م. من خلال هذا التقرير تمت التوصية بمتابعة الرصد المستمر لجميع المواقع في الرحلات المستقبلية حتى يتم تفسير ظاهرة الانخفاض المفاجئ في الاوكار النشطة وكذلك يوصي بعمليات التشريح بعد الوفاة إذا تم العثور على أي ثعالب متوفاة حديثا للتأكد من السبب الفعلي للوفاة حيث قد يكون أحد الأمراض المنتشرة سببا للوفاة والتراجع المفاجئ في أعداد الاوكار النشطة. من المتوقع أن يكون نجاح اصطياد الثدييات متوسطة الحجم محدوداً خلال فترة الرحلة القصيرة ومن غير المرجح أن يعكس هذا التسجيل الوضع الحقيقي للأنواع المستهدفة مثال القط جوردون البري (Felis silvestris gordoni) وكذلك الثعلب الرملي (Vulpes rueppellii) داخل محمية دبي الصحراوية، ولذلك يعتقد أن الدراسة على مدد زمنية أطول وكذلك تمثيل عينات من خلال الفصول الجغرافية المختلفة وبجهود اصطياد مستمرة سوف يوفر بيانات يمكن ان تساعد في تقييم حالة توزيع تلك الأنواع ولكن ذلك لا يمكن تحقيقه من خلال بعثات المحيط الحيوي قصيرة الأجل. ومع ذلك، فإن البيانات التي يتم تجميعها من خلال أي اصطياد بما في ذلك الحجم والوزن والجنس تضيف بيانات مفيدة إلي قاعدة البيانات المتنامية لهذه الأنواع المستهدفة داخل محمية دبي الصحراوية. من بين 18 كاميرا مراقبة للحياة البرية، كان هناك عدد أتنين كاميرا فشلت في التقاط أي صور ذات معني. نتج عن ذلك ما مجموعه 76 يوما من المراقبة بالكاميرات حيث تم التقاط حوالي 4,064 صورة منها 3,312 صورة حية، وكان عدد 2,363 من تلك المشاهدات للحيوانات الموجودة بالطبيعة وعدد 713 صورة لبشر أو مركبات وشملت تلك المشاهدات بكاميرات المراقبة سبعة صور للأرنب العربي وأكثر من 270 صورة للثعلب الأحمر، وبالرغم من ذلك لم يتم تسجيل الأنواع النادرة داخل المحمية مثال القط جوردون البري، وثعلب الرمال. يمثل التحدي الرئيسي لمحمية دبي الصحراوية زيادة أعداد المها العربي والغزلان، تم الحصول على موافقة السلطات الإماراتية لنقل أعداد من المها العربي من المحمية إلى مناطق محمية أخري خارج دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة مما سوف يخفف بعض الضغوط التي تسببها الزيادة المضطردة للقطيع على بيئة المحمية.
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EXPEDITION
REPORT
Expedition dates:
21
-
28 January 2017
Report published:
December
201
Ways of the desert:
conserving Arabian oryx, Gordon’s
wildcat and other species of the Dubai
Desert Conservation Reserve,
United Arab Emirates.
1
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
EXPEDITION REPORT
Ways of the desert:
Conserving
Arabian oryx, Gordon’s wildcat and other
species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve,
United Arab Emirates.
Expedition dates:
21
28 January 2017
Report
published:
December
2018
Author
:
Gregory Simkins
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Matthias Hammer
(editor)
Biosphere Expeditions
2
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Abstract
The successful collaboration between Biosphere Expeditions and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
(DDCR),
initiated in 2012, continues with c
itizen scientist
s
collecting
data
for a week
from
21
to
28
January 201
7
.
Data gathered alerted the DDCR management to several conservation issues and also allowed for informed, fact
-
based management decisions to be made
in a showcase of how the work of citizen scientist
s
can aid the efforts of
conservation professionals.
The 2017 expedition conducted quadrant surveys, circular observations
,
camera trapping for animals and a
vegetation survey.
The
expedition observed
th
e following target species
during a quadrant survey:
345 Arabian oryx
(
Oryx leuoryx
)
,
360 mountain gazelle
(
Gazella gazell
a
)
,
69 sand gazelle
(
Gazella marica
)
, 2 red fox
(
Vulpes vulpes arabica
)
, 5
Arabian hare
(
Lepus capensis
)
and 3
p
haraoh eagle owls
(
Bub
o ascalaphus
)
.
In 2017
,
an emphasis on collecting good data from circular observation
s
meant very few counts/observations at
the feed
s
pots and therefore a greatly reduced final count of Arabian oryx when compared to both the 2016
Biosphere Expeditions co
unt
and
the DDCR
count
.
This is also reflected in the predicted distribution of Arabian
oryx across the DDCR, with fewer areas with a high concentration of animals
,
not reflecting the true distribution of
the reserve
s oryx herd
. However
,
this methodology
greatly improved the counts and predicted distribution of the
Arabian gazelle
,
reflecting their
natural behaviour of smaller family groups, which are more widely distributed and
with very few congregations of large groups
.
The counts of s
and gazelle
were
c
onsistent with the previous year’s
count and can be considered an accurate estimate of the population within the DDCR
. T
heir p
redicted distribution
has contracted from that of 2016 with some areas predicted not to have any sand gazelle. However, the hotspo
ts
were
consistently in the southwest of the DDCR and correlate
d
to a concentration of individuals at
the
Tawi
Ghadier irrigated area
.
In 2017
,
Biosphere Expeditions
for the first time
collected
d
ata on the distribution of vegetation, in particular large
shrubs and trees. Nearly 10,000 plants were counted during the circular observat
ions. The dominant species was
fire bush (
Leptadenia pyrotechnica
) (8,888), the congregated ghaf trees (
Procera cineria
)
(823)
,
date palms
(
Phoenix dactylifera
)
(140) and the m
ore widely distributed Sodom
’s apple (
Calotropis procera
)
(112). Predicted
distribution of the two shrub species
(
L
.
.pyrote
c
hnica & C. procera
)
have provided the DDCR management with
the most accurate picture to date of the distribution of these two indica
tor species for the reserve’s habitat
.
The 2017 survey
of red f
ox dens show
ed
a 59% reduction in the number of active dens, most of which were
abandoned, and a 25% reduction
in
inactive dens, of which only two dens became active. There were, however,
44 n
ew den sites (14 active, 21 inactive and nine abandoned) discovered in 2017 compared to only seven new
sites found in 2016.
Continued monitoring
of
all den locations is re
commended on future expeditions.
The Arabian
red fox will need to be closely monitore
d due to the sudden reduction in active dens. If any recently deceased
foxes are found in the DDCR, the opportunity to perform a post mortem should be undertaken to ascertain the
cause of death
,
as disease could be a potential cause of the sudden decline.
The success of trapping for medium
-
sized mammals is expected
to be limited
over the short period of the
expedition and as such is unlikely to reflect the true status of the target species, Gordon’s wildcat
(
Felis silvestris
gordoni
)
and sand fox
(
Vulpes r
ueppellii
)
, within the DDCR. A study over a longer period, including the different
seasons and a sustained trapping effort
,
would provide data that could help in assessing the population status of
these species
, but this is outside the scope of a short
-
ter
m citizen science expedition
. However, data collected
from any capture, including size, weight and sex
,
add
useful data
to the growing database of these target species
within the DDCR
.
Of the 18
c
amera
traps set
,
there were two traps that failed to produc
e any meaningful photo
graph
s. This resulted
in a total of 76 trapping days that captured 4,064 images of which 3,312 were live images
;
2,363 of these
contained naturally occurring fauna and 713 contained humans or vehicles
. This included seven photos of th
e
nocturnal Arabian hare and over 270 records of the Arabian red fox. However, the rare and cryptic species within
the DDCR, namely Gordon’s wildcat and sand fox, were once again not recorded
.
The DDCR management
’s
major challenge is the incr
ease of the
ungulate population. A
pproval
has been obtained
from UAE authorities to translocate
Arabian oryx from the reserve to other protected areas and zoological
collections within the region and this will alleviate some of the pressure of a growing population on
the
environment.
The reintroduction of an apex predator to restore a natural ecological process putting top
-
down pres
sure on the
ungulate population
will continue to be explore
d
to hopefully find a socially acc
eptable solution, as similar
re
introductions
elsewhere have also had numerous other benefits to
the function of the ecosystem.
3
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
صﺧﻠﻣﻟا
لازﺎﻣ
نوﺎﻌﺗﻟا
ﺢﺟﺎﻧﻟا
نﯾﺑ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣ
ﻲﺑد
ﺔﯾوارﺣﺻﻟا
ﺞﻣﺎﻧرﺑو
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ﺞﻣﺎﻧرﺑﻟا
ﻲﻓ
مﺎﻌﻟا
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21
رﯾﺎﻧﯾ
2017
م
ﻰﺗﺣو
28
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2017
م
.
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تدﯾأ
تﺎﻧﺎﯾﺑﻟا
ﻲﺗﻟا
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دﯾدﻌﻠﻟ
نﻣ
تﺎظﺣﻼﻣﻟا
ﺔطﺷﻧﻷاو
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لﺑﻗ
ةرادإ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣ
ﻲﺑد
ﺔﯾوارﺣﺻﻟا
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تدﻋﺎﺳ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟا
ﻲﻓ
لوﺻﺣﻟا
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دﯾدﻌﻟا
نﻣ
تﺎﻣوﻠﻌﻣﻟا
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ﻲﻓ
ﺢﻟﺎﺻ
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تﻣھﺎﺳ
ﻲﻓ
زﯾزﻌﺗ
نوﺎﻌﺗﻟا
رﻣﺛﻣﻟا
نﯾﺑ
نﯾﻋوطﺗﻣﻟا
نﯾﻣﺗﮭﻣﻟا
ةﺎﯾﺣﻟﺎﺑ
ﺔﯾرﺑﻟا
نﯾﺛﺣﺎﺑﻟاو
نﯾﻠﻣﺎﻌﻟا
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟﺎﺑ
.
ترﺟأ
ﺔﺛﻌﺑ
طﯾﺣﻣﻟا
يوﯾﺣﻟا
مﺎﻌﻟ
2017
م
دﯾدﻌﻟا
نﻣ
تﺎﺣوﺳﻣﻟا
ﺔﯾﻣﻠﻌﻟا
ﺎﮭﻧﻣ
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مادﺧﺗﺳﺎﺑ
،تﺎﻌﺑرﻣﻟا
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نﻋ
قﯾرط
لﯾﺟﺳﺗ
تادھﺎﺷﻣﻟا
ةروﺻﺑ
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نﺋﺎﻣﻛو
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،تﺎﻧاوﯾﺣﻟا
ﺔﻓﺎﺿﻹﺎﺑ
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.
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لﯾﺟﺳﺗ
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لﻼﺧ
ﺔﺳارد
تﺎﺣوﺳﻣ
،تﺎﻌﺑرﻣﻟا
ثﯾﺣ
مﺗ
لﯾﺟﺳﺗ
345
درﻓ
نﻣ
ﺎﮭﻣﻟا
ﻲﺑرﻌﻟا
(
Oryx leuoryx
)
،
360
لازﻏ
ﻲﻣدﻷا
(
Gazella gazella
)
،
69
درﻓ
نﻣ
لازﻏ
مﯾرﻟا
(
Gazella marica
)
،
نﺎﻧﺛا
نﻣ
بﻟﺎﻌﺛﻟا
ءارﻣﺣﻟا
(
Vulpes
Vulpes arabica
)
،
ﺔﺳﻣﺧ
بﻧارأ
ﺔﯾرﺑ
(
Lepus capensis
)
،
ﺔﻓﺎﺿﻹﺎﺑ
ﻰﻟإ
ددﻋ
ثﻼﺛ
نﻣ
موﺑﻟا
يوارﺣﺻﻟا
(
Bubo
ascalaphus
)
.
بﺻﻧأ
زﯾﻛرﺗﻟا
ﻲﻓ
مﺎﻋ
2017
ﻰﻠﻋ
ﻊﯾﻣﺟﺗ
دﯾدﻌﻟا
نﻣ
تﺎﻧﺎﯾﺑﻟا
ﺔﻣﺎﮭﻟا
نﻣ
لﻼﺧ
لﯾﺟﺳﺗ
تﺎظﺣﻼﻣﻟا
ﺔﻘﯾرطﻟﺎﺑ
ﺔﯾرﺋادﻟا
ﺎﻣﻣ
يدأ
ﻰﻟإ
لﯾﺟﺳﺗ
ددﻋ
لﯾﻠﻗ
ادﺟ
نﻣ
تادھﺎﺷﻣﻟا
تﺎظﺣﻼﻣﻟاو
دادﻋﻷ
ﺎﮭﻣﻟا
ﻲﺑرﻌﻟا
ﻲﻓ
ﻊﻗاوﻣ
ﺔﯾذﻐﺗﻟا
ﺔﻧرﺎﻘﻣ
لﻛﺑ
تﺎﺛﻌﺑﻟا
ﺔﻘﺑﺎﺳﻟا
صﺧﻷﺎﺑو
مﺎﻌﺑ
2016
م
ﺎﻣﻣ
يدأ
ﻰﻟإ
رﯾﻐﺗ
ﻲﻓ
ﻊﯾزوﺗﻟا
ﻊﻗوﺗﻣﻟا
ﻊﯾطﻘﻟ
ﺎﮭﻣﻟا
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟﺎﺑ
ﻊﻣ
دوﺟو
دادﻋأ
لﻗأ
قطﺎﻧﻣﻟﺎﺑ
تاذ
زﯾﻛرﺗﻟا
ﻲﻟﺎﻌﻟا
ﺣﻣﻟﺎﺑ
ﺔﯾﻣ
ﺎﻣﻣ
سﻛﻌﯾ
ﻊﯾزوﺗﻟا
ﻲﻘﯾﻘﺣﻟا
نﺎﻌطﻘﻟ
ﺎﮭﻣﻟا
لﺧاد
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣ
ﻲﺑد
ﺔﯾوارﺣﺻﻟا
.
مﻏرﻟﺎﺑو
نﻣ
،كﻟذ
نﺈﻓ
هذھ
ﺔﯾﺟﮭﻧﻣﻟا
دﻗ
تﻧﺳﺣ
لﻛﺷﺑ
رﯾﺑﻛ
دادﻌﺗﻟا
ﻲﻘﯾﻘﺣﻟا
ؤﺑﻧﺗﻟاو
ﻊﻗوﺗﻣﻟا
لازﻐﻠﻟ
ﻲﺑرﻌﻟا
ﺎﻣﻣ
سﻛﻌﯾ
بوﻠﺳأ
كوﻠﺳو
لازﻐﻟا
ﻲﻌﯾﺑطﻟا
تﺎﻋوﻣﺟﻣﻠﻟ
ﺔﯾﻠﺋﺎﻌﻟا
رﻐﺻﻷا
ةرﺷﺗﻧﻣﻟا
ةروﺻﺑ
رﺑﻛأ
نﻣ
ﻣﻟا
تﺎﻋوﻣﺟ
ةرﯾﺑﻛﻟا
.
ﻲﻓ
كﻠﺗ
ﺔﻧﺳﻟا
2017
م
مﺗ
لﯾﺟﺳﺗ
سﻔﻧ
دادﻋﻷا
لازﻐﻟ
لﺎﻣرﻟا
ﺔﻧرﺎﻘﻣ
ﻊﻣ
دادﻋﻷا
ﺔﻠﺟﺳﻣﻟا
ﻲﻓ
2016
م
ﺎﻣﻣ
نﻛﻣﯾ
هرﺎﺑﺗﻋا
ارﯾدﻘﺗ
ﺎﻘﯾﻗد
ً
ﻊﯾزوﺗﻟ
لازﻏ
لﺎﻣرﻟا
نﻣﺿ
قﺎطﻧ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣ
ﻲﺑد
ﺔﯾوارﺣﺻﻟا
لﯾﺟﺳﺗﺑ
ضﻌﺑ
طﺎﻘﻧﻟا
ﺔﻧﺧﺎﺳﻟا
ﻲﻓ
بوﻧﺟﻟا
ﻲﺑرﻐﻟا
نﻣ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟا
.
ﻲﻓ
مﺎﻋ
2017
مﺗ
لو
ةرﻣ
ءدﺑﻟا
ﻲﻓ
ﻊﯾﻣﺟﺗ
تﺎﻧﺎﯾﺑ
تادھﺎﺷﻣو
ﻊﯾزوﺗ
تﺎﺗﺎﺑﻧﻟا
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟﺎﺑ
لﺎﺛﻣ
رﺎﺟﺷﻷا
تارﯾﺟﺷﻟاو
ةرﯾﺑﻛﻟا
ثﯾﺣ
مﺗ
رﺻﺣ
دادﻋأ
ﺎﻣ
برﻘﯾ
نﻣ
10,000
درﻓ
نﻣ
تﺎﺗﺎﺑﻧﻟا
نﻣ
لﻼﺧ
لﯾﺟﺳﺗ
تادھﺎﺷﻣﻟا
ﻲﻓ
ﻊﻗاوﻣﻟا
ﻲﺗﻟا
تدﻣﺗﻋا
ﺔﻘﯾرطﻟا
ﺔﯾرﺋادﻟا
.
تﻧﺎﻛ
عاوﻧﻷا
ةدﺋﺎﺳﻟا
ﻲھ
تارﯾﺟﺷ
خرﻣﻟا
)
Leptadeni
a pyrotechnica
(
دادﻋﺄﺑ
حوارﺗﺗ
ﻰﻟإ
)
9,000
ةرﯾﺟﺷ
(
،
رﺎﺟﺷأو
فﺎﻐﻟا
)
Procera cineria
) (
823
ةرﺟﺷ
(
،
رﺎﺟﺷأو
لﯾﺧﻧﻟا
)
Phoenix dactylifera
) (
140
ةرﺟﺷ
(
،
ةرﯾﺟﺷو
رﺎﺷﻌﻟا
)
Calotropis procera
) (
112
ةرﺟﺷ
(
دﻘﻟو
تدﻋﺎﺳ
تﺎﻧﺎﯾﺑﻟا
ﻲﺗﻟا
مﺗ
ﺎﮭﻌﯾﻣﺟﺗ
نﻋ
تارﯾﺟﺷ
خرﻣﻟا
تارﯾﺟﺷو
رﺎﺷﻌﻟا
ﺣﻣﻟا
ﺔﯾﻣ
رﯾدﻘﺗﻟ
قدا
ﻊﯾزوﺗ
كﻠﺗﻟ
تارﯾﺟﺷﻟا
لﺧاد
قﺎطﻧ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟا
تﺎﺋﯾﺑﻟاو
ﺔﺑﺳﺎﻧﻣﻟا
ﻼﻛﻟ
نﯾﻋوﻧﻟا
.
رﮭظأ
ﺢﺳﻣﻟا
يذﻟا
يرﺟأ
مﺎﻋ
2017
م
رﺎﻛوﻷ
بﻟﺎﻌﺛﻟا
ءارﻣﺣﻟا
ﺎﺿﺎﻔﺧﻧا
ﻲﻓ
ددﻋ
رﺎﻛوﻻا
ﺔطﺷﻧﻟا
ﺔﺑﺳﻧﺑ
59
%
ﺔﻧرﺎﻘﻣ
ماوﻋﻷﺎﺑ
ﺔﻘﺑﺎﺳﻟا
ثﯾﺣ
مﺗ
ﻲﻠﺧﺗﻟا
نﻋ
مظﻌﻣ
كﻠﺗ
رﺎﻛوﻷا
،ﺔطﺷﻧﻟا
ضﺎﻔﺧﻧاو
ﺳﻧﺑ
ﺔﺑ
25
%
ﻲﻓ
رﺎﻛوﻻا
رﯾﻐﻟا
ﺔطﺷﻧ
ﻲﺗﻟاو
مﻟ
طﺷﻧﯾ
ﺎﮭﻧﻣ
يوﺳ
نﯾرﻛو
نﯾﻧﺛأ
طﻘﻓ
لﻼﺧ
2017
م
.
ﻊﻣ
،كﻟذ
ﻲﻓ
2017
مﺗ
فﺎﺷﺗﻛا
44
رﻛو
دﯾدﺟ
)
14
رﻛو
طﺷﻧ
و
21
رﻛو
رﯾﻏ
طﺷﻧ
كﻟذﻛو
9
رﺎﻛوأ
ةروﺟﮭﻣ
(
ﺔﻧرﺎﻘﻣ
ﺔﻌﺑﺳﺑ
ﻊﻗاوﻣ
ةدﯾدﺟ
مﺗ
ﺎﮭﻓﺎﺷﺗﻛا
روﺛﻌﻟاو
ﺎﮭﯾﻠﻋ
ﻲﻓ
مﺎﻌﻟا
2016
م
.
نﻣ
لﻼﺧ
اذھ
رﯾرﻘﺗﻟا
تﻣ
ﺔﯾﺻوﺗﻟا
ﺔﻌﺑﺎﺗﻣﺑ
دﺻرﻟا
رﻣﺗﺳﻣﻟا
ﻊﯾﻣﺟﻟ
ﻊﻗاوﻣﻟا
ﻲﻓ
تﻼﺣرﻟا
ﺔﯾﻠﺑﻘﺗﺳﻣﻟا
ﻰﺗﺣ
مﺗﯾ
رﯾﺳﻔﺗ
ةرھﺎظ
ضﺎﻔﺧﻧﻻا
ﺊﺟﺎﻔﻣﻟا
ﻲﻓ
رﺎﻛوﻻا
ﺔطﺷﻧﻟا
كﻟذﻛو
ﻲﺻوﯾ
تﺎﯾﻠﻣﻌﺑ
ﺢﯾرﺷﺗﻟا
دﻌﺑ
ةﺎﻓوﻟا
اذإ
مﺗ
روﺛﻌﻟا
ﻰﻠﻋ
يأ
بﻟﺎﻌﺛ
ةﺎﻓوﺗﻣ
ﺎﺛﯾدﺣ
دﻛﺄﺗﻠﻟ
نﻣ
بﺑﺳﻟا
ﻲﻠﻌﻔﻟا
ةﺎﻓوﻠﻟ
ثﯾﺣ
دﻗ
نوﻛﯾ
دﺣأ
ضارﻣﻷا
ةرﺷﺗﻧﻣﻟا
ﺎﺑﺑﺳ
ةﺎﻓوﻠﻟ
ﻊﺟارﺗﻟاو
ﺊﺟﺎﻔﻣﻟا
ﻲﻓ
دادﻋأ
رﺎﻛوﻻا
ﺔطﺷﻧﻟا
.
نﻣ
ﻊﻗوﺗﻣﻟا
نأ
نوﻛﯾ
حﺎﺟﻧ
دﺎﯾطﺻا
تﺎﯾﯾدﺛﻟا
ﺔطﺳوﺗﻣ
مﺟﺣﻟا
ادودﺣﻣ
ً
لﻼﺧ
ةرﺗﻓ
ﺔﻠﺣرﻟا
ةرﯾﺻﻘﻟا
نﻣو
رﯾﻏ
ﺢﺟرﻣﻟا
نأ
سﻛﻌﯾ
اذھ
لﯾﺟﺳﺗﻟا
ﻊﺿوﻟا
ﻲﻘﯾﻘﺣﻟا
عاوﻧﻸﻟ
ﺔﻓدﮭﺗﺳﻣﻟا
لﺎﺛﻣ
طﻘﻟا
نودروﺟ
يرﺑﻟا
)
Felis silvestris
gordoni
(
كﻟذﻛو
بﻠﻌﺛﻟا
ﻲﻠﻣرﻟا
)
Vulpes rueppellii
(
لﺧاد
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣ
ﻲﺑد
،ﺔﯾوارﺣﺻﻟا
كﻟذﻟو
دﻘﺗﻌﯾ
نأ
ﺔﺳاردﻟا
ﻰﻠﻋ
ددﻣ
ﺔﯾﻧﻣز
لوطأ
كﻟذﻛو
لﯾﺛﻣﺗ
تﺎﻧﯾﻋ
نﻣ
لﻼﺧ
لوﺻﻔﻟا
ﺔﯾﻓارﻐﺟﻟا
ﺔﻔﻠﺗﺧﻣﻟا
دوﮭﺟﺑو
دﺎﯾطﺻا
ةرﻣﺗﺳﻣ
فوﺳ
رﻓوﯾ
تﺎﻧﺎﯾﺑ
نﻛﻣﯾ
نا
دﻋﺎﺳﺗ
ﻲﻓ
مﯾﯾﻘﺗ
ﺔﻟﺎﺣ
ﻊﯾزوﺗ
كﻠﺗ
عاوﻧﻷا
ﻛﻟو
ن
كﻟذ
نﻛﻣﯾ
ﮫﻘﯾﻘﺣﺗ
نﻣ
لﻼﺧ
تﺎﺛﻌﺑ
طﯾﺣﻣﻟا
يوﯾﺣﻟا
ةرﯾﺻﻗ
لﺟﻷا
.
ﻊﻣو
،كﻟذ
نﺈﻓ
تﺎﻧﺎﯾﺑﻟا
ﻲﺗﻟا
مﺗﯾ
ﺎﮭﻌﯾﻣﺟﺗ
نﻣ
لﻼﺧ
يأ
دﺎﯾطﺻا
ﺎﻣﺑ
ﻲﻓ
كﻟذ
مﺟﺣﻟا
نزوﻟاو
سﻧﺟﻟاو
فﯾﺿﺗ
تﺎﻧﺎﯾﺑ
ةدﯾﻔﻣ
ﻲﻟإ
ةدﻋﺎﻗ
تﺎﻧﺎﯾﺑﻟا
ﺔﯾﻣﺎﻧﺗﻣﻟا
هذﮭﻟ
عاوﻧﻷا
ﺔﻓدﮭﺗﺳﻣﻟا
لﺧاد
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣ
ﻲﺑد
ﺔﯾوارﺣﺻﻟا
.
نﻣ
نﯾﺑ
18
ارﯾﻣﺎﻛ
ﺔﺑﻗارﻣ
ةﺎﯾﺣﻠﻟ
،ﺔﯾرﺑﻟا
نﺎﻛ
كﺎﻧھ
ددﻋ
نﯾﻧﺗأ
ارﯾﻣﺎﻛ
تﻠﺷﻓ
ﻲﻓ
طﺎﻘﺗﻟا
يأ
روﺻ
تاذ
ﻲﻧﻌﻣ
.
ﺞﺗﻧ
نﻋ
كﻟذ
ﺎﻣ
ﮫﻋوﻣﺟﻣ
76
ﺎﻣوﯾ
نﻣ
ﺔﺑﻗارﻣﻟا
تارﯾﻣﺎﻛﻟﺎﺑ
ثﯾﺣ
مﺗ
طﺎﻘﺗﻟا
ﻲﻟاوﺣ
4,064
ةروﺻ
ﺎﮭﻧﻣ
3,312
ةروﺻ
،ﺔﯾﺣ
نﺎﻛو
ددﻋ
2,363
نﻣ
كﻠﺗ
تادھﺎﺷﻣﻟا
تﺎﻧاوﯾﺣﻠﻟ
ةدوﺟوﻣﻟا
ﺔﻌﯾﺑطﻟﺎﺑ
ددﻋو
713
ةروﺻ
رﺷﺑﻟ
وأ
تﺎﺑﻛرﻣ
تﻠﻣﺷو
كﻠﺗ
تادھﺎﺷﻣﻟا
تارﯾﻣﺎﻛﺑ
ﺔﺑﻗارﻣﻟا
ﺔﻌﺑﺳ
روﺻ
بﻧرﻸﻟ
ﻲﺑرﻌﻟا
رﺛﻛأو
نﻣ
270
ةروﺻ
بﻠﻌﺛﻠﻟ
،رﻣﺣﻷا
مﻏرﻟﺎﺑو
نﻣ
كﻟذ
مﻟ
مﺗﯾ
لﯾﺟﺳﺗ
عاوﻧﻷا
ةردﺎﻧﻟا
لﺧاد
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟا
لﺎﺛﻣ
طﻘﻟا
نودروﺟ
،يرﺑﻟا
بﻠﻌﺛو
لﺎﻣرﻟا
.
لﺛﻣﯾ
يدﺣﺗﻟا
ﻲﺳﯾﺋرﻟا
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟ
ﻲﺑد
ﺔﯾوارﺣﺻﻟا
ز
ةدﺎﯾ
دادﻋأ
ﺎﮭﻣﻟا
ﻲﺑرﻌﻟا
،نﻻزﻐﻟاو
مﺗ
لوﺻﺣﻟا
ﻰﻠﻋ
ﺔﻘﻓاوﻣ
تﺎطﻠﺳﻟا
ﺔﯾﺗارﺎﻣﻹا
لﻘﻧﻟ
دادﻋأ
نﻣ
ﺎﮭﻣﻟا
ﻲﺑرﻌﻟا
نﻣ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟا
ﻰﻟإ
قطﺎﻧﻣ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣ
يرﺧأ
جرﺎﺧ
ﺔﻟود
تارﺎﻣﻹا
ﺔﯾﺑرﻌﻟا
ةدﺣﺗﻣﻟا
ﺎﻣﻣ
فوﺳ
فﻔﺧﯾ
ضﻌﺑ
طوﻐﺿﻟا
ﻲﺗﻟا
ﺎﮭﺑﺑﺳﺗ
ةدﺎﯾزﻟا
ةدرطﺿﻣﻟا
ﻊﯾطﻘﻠﻟ
ﻰﻠﻋ
ﺔﺋﯾﺑ
ﺔﯾﻣﺣﻣﻟا
.
4
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
C
o
ntents
Abstrac
t
2
ﻰﺑرﻌﻟا صﺧﻠﻣﻟا
3
Contents
4
1. Expedition r
eview
5
1.1. Background
5
1.2. Research a
rea
5
1.3. Dates
6
1.4. Local conditions & s
upport
6
1.5.
S
cientist
s
7
1.6. Expedition l
eader
8
1.7. Expedition t
eam
8
1.8
. Partners
8
1.9
. Expedition b
udget
9
1.10
. Acknowledgements
10
1
.11
. Further i
nfo
rmation & e
nquiries
10
2.
Desert species surveys
1
1
2.1. Introduction
and background
1
1
2.2.
Methods
23
2.3. Results
26
2.4
.
Discussion
and conclusions
38
2.5
.
Literatur
e cited
40
Appendix 1
: Expedition diary & reports
41
5
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Please note: Each expedition report is written as a stand
-
alone document that can be read
without having to refer back to previous reports. As such, much of this section, which
remains valid
and relevant, is a repetition from previous reports, copied here to provide the
reader with an uninterrupted flow of argument and rationale.
1.
Expedition
r
eview
M. Hammer
Biosphere Expeditions
1.1. Background
Biosphere Expeditions runs wildlife conse
rvation research expeditions to all corners of the
Earth. Our projects are not tours, photographic safaris or excursions, but genuine research
expeditions placing ordinary people with no research experience alongside scientists who
are at the forefront of
conservation work. Our expeditions are open to all and there are no
special skills (scientific or otherwise) required to join. Our expedition team members are
people from all walks of life, of all ages, looking for an adventure with a conscience and a
sens
e of purpose. More information about Biosphere Expeditions and its research
expeditions can be found at
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org
.
This expedition report deals with an expedition to the
United Ara
b
Emirates that ran from
21
28 January 2017
with the aim of assisting scientists of the Dubai Desert Conservation
Reserve (DDCR) to gather scientific data
on
Arabian o
ryx, Gordon’s wildcat, mountain and
sand gazelle and
Arabian red fox
in order to gain a
better understanding of their ecology
so that informed management decisions can be made.
Arabian oryx and Gordon’s wildcat
are on the IUCN Red
L
ist and the expedition’s work will help to ensure the survival of the
species in the wild. In gaining a bette
r
understanding of the Arabian o
ryx
and
Gordon’s
wildcat, through observations on their movements, habitat and food preferences and
through their interaction with other species, this project is able to ascertain what the major
threats are to their continued
survival. Based on this, project scientists can then develop
appropriate management plans that will provide a safe environment for the study species
to thrive in.
1.2. Research area
The DDCR is an area of 225 km² that comprises 4.7% of Dubai’s land area.
Conservation
in this area started in 1999 when the Al Maha Desert Resort was opened within a
protected area of 27 km² (Al Maha Reserve). One of the first conservation actions of the
reserve was a wildlife reintr
oduction programme for Arabian o
ryx and the
two indigenous
gazelle species (sand
and
mountain gazelle
), as well as programmes for the protection of
other key components of the ecosystem, in particular the vegetation (close to 6
,
000
indigenous trees were planted in 1999 to create a natural seed bank
which has now led to
germination of indigenous plants). In 2001
,
the resort management began a major
environmental audit of the surrounding area. Following this audit a proposal was submitted
to the Dubai government
for
the formation of a formal national p
ark. The proposal was
accepted and sanctioned almost immediately
,
and work began on protecting the area to be
known as the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
6
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Figure 1.2a.
Flag and location of United Arab Emirates
and study site.
An overview of Bios
phere Expeditions’ research sites,
assembly points, base camp and office locations is at
Google Maps
.
Today the DDCR is a representative of the Dubai inland desert ecosystem and is
characterised by a sandy desert environment consisting of sand dunes interspersed with
gravel plains. There is one rocky outcrop in the north of the reser
ve, which provides
nesting sites for the desert eagle owl and two groves of rare Ghaf trees (
Prosopis
cineraria
). The Al Maha Reserve (27
km²) was the core area for the
reintroduction of the
Arabian o
ryx,
mountain gazelle
and sand gazelle. Currently the DD
CR contains
approximately 450 Arabian
oryx
from the 100 that were or
iginally re
introd
uced in 1999.
Both the Arabian o
ryx and the gazelle species have expanded into
the DDCR naturally as
the amount of human activity has decreased and been controlled.
Mounta
in
and sand
gazelle can now be seen throughout the DDCR.
1.3. Dates
The expedition
ran from
21
-
28
January
2017
and was
composed of a team of
international research assistants, guides, support personnel and an expedition leader (see
below for team det
ails).
1.4. Local conditions & s
upport
Expedition base
The expedition
field base
was composed of
a Bedu style tent camp
(of a Bedu mess tent
,
a modern one and two
-
person dome tents for sleeping in)
. Each person
had their
own
dome tent to sleep
in (large
r tents for couples) and there were campsite
-
style showers and
toilets
.
A
ll meals were provided by a catering company.
7
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Weather
The UAE has a subtropical, arid climate with sunny blue skies most of the year.
Over the
eight days of the expedition the weath
er
was
overcast most mornings, clearing up to the
usual cloudless sky later in the day
.
The mean low and high temperatures during the
expedition were
12
º and
2
6
º
C
.
On the first two days of the expedition there was fog cover
in the morning, which lifted by
09:30.
Field communications
There was an (emergency) telephone close to base and mobile phones largely worked in
and around camp
,
and around the study site. In the field, two
-
way radios and mobile
phones were used for communication between research tea
ms.
The expedition leader also
posted an expedition diary on
Biosphere Expeditions’ social
media sites
.
Transport and vehicles
Team members made their own way to the Dubai assembly point in ti
me. From there
onwards and back to the assembly point all transport and vehicles
were provided for the
expedition team, for expedition support and emergency evacuations.
Medical
The expedition leader was a trained first aider, and the expedition carried
a
comprehensive medical kit.
A network of first
-
rate private and government hospitals in
Dubai provided further medical support
.
Safety and emergency procedures were in place.
There were no medical incidences during the expedition and none of the medical
support
network or safety procedures were called upon.
1.5.
S
cientist
s
The expedition's field scientist
was
Stephen Bell. Born in South Africa, he graduated in
Biology in 1996, with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Witwatersrand, South
Africa.
Stephen
has
spent most of his career guiding throughout South Africa and Zambia
in private game lodges. He was also a trails guide in the
G
reater Kruger National Park
where he conducted 5
-
day walking safaris. Stephen fell in love with the fauna and flora
of
the Arabian desert whil
e
he spent six years guiding in the area at the Al Maha Desert
Resort & Spa. Stephen joined the DDCR as a Conservation Officer in 2009 and works
closely with on
-
going conservation projects on the reserve. Stephen has a passion for
birding and is always keeping an ear out for the odd bird call. Stephen has always had a
keen interest in wildlife
;
from a young age he was always found playing with all sorts of
creepy crawlies. During his time
off
Stephen can be found with mates diving
around the
world.
8
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
However, Stephen Bell left the DDCR soon after the expedition and the report was written
up by Greg Simkins, the DDCR’s Conservation Manager.
Greg Simkins is
also South
African by birth
and has worked in the field of conservation and p
rotected areas
management since 2001. Greg began his career as a field guide in 1999. In 2001
,
he
became a Reserve Officer in the
area that later became the
DDCR
,
and was heavily
involved in the planning and implementation of eco
-
tourism activities within
the protected
area, which was created in 2003. In 2003
,
Greg took on his current role and was appointed
Conservation Manager for the DDCR. He is now responsible for the overall management
of the
r
eserve
and has been at the forefront of its development from
conception in 2003 to
its current international recognition. He also plays a major role in conducting key
conservation research studies throughout the DDCR. Prior to coming to the Middle East,
Greg studied at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg in K
wazulu
-
Natal, where he also
did graduate work, including resource assessment and allocation for a farm, soil surveys
and research at an ostrich export farm in the Eastern Cape.
1.6. Expedition l
eader
The expedition was led by Dr. Matthias Hammer, who
fou
nded
Biosphere Expeditions in
1999.
Born in Germany, he went to school there, before joining the Army and serving for
several years with the German Parachute Regiment
amongst other units
. After active
service he came to the UK and was educated at St Andrew
s, Oxford and Cambridge
Universities
. During his time at university he either organised or was involved in the
running of several expeditions, some of which were conservation expeditions (for example
to the Brazil Amazon and Madagascar), whilst others were
mountaineering/climbing
expeditions (for example to the Russian Caucasus, the Alps or the Rocky Mountains). With
Biosphere Expeditions he has led teams all over the globe. He is a qualified wilderness
medical officer, ski instructor, mountain leader, dive
master and survival skills instructor.
Once a rower on the international circuit, he is now an amateur marathon runner and
Ironman triathlete.
1.7. Expeditio
n t
eam
The expedition team was recruited by Biosphere Expeditions and consisted of a mixture of
a
ll ages, nationalities and backgrounds. They were (
in alphabetical order and
with
countries of residence):
Albert Arkush (USA), Jim Blomgren (USA), Martina de Marco
(Belgiu
m), Samar Elelemy* (UAE), Laura
Holt (UK, press), Karin Leitz (Germany),
Jörn
Paraat
-
Zierrath (Germany),
Kathie Priebe (USA), Sigrid Schramm (Germany), Jörg
Schulze (Germany), Richard Tapper (UK, WTTC assessor)
and
Yvonne Vahlensieck
(Switzerland).
Also present were Biosphere Expeditions staff Amadeus DeKastle and
Tessa Merrie.
*
L
ocal pl
acement kindly sponsored by the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions.
1.8
.
P
artners
The main partner on this expedition is the Dubai Conservation Board, a government
-
appointed organisation concerned with the conservation and protection of the Dubai inland
d
esert. Other partners include the National Avian Research Centre.
9
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
1.9
. Expedition Budget
Each team member paid towards expedit
ion costs a contr
ibution of £1,24
0
for the
seven
-
day
expedition
. The contribution covered accommodation and meals, supervision
and
induction, all maps and special non
-
personal equipment,
and
all transport from and to the
team assembly point. It did not cover excess luggage charges, travel insurance, personal
expenses
such as
telephone bills, souvenirs, etc., as well as visa
s
and o
ther travel
expenses to and from the assembly point (e.g. international flights).
Details on how these
contributions were spent are given below.
Income
£
Expedition contributions
15
,
661
Expenditure
Staff
includes local & international salaries
, travel and expenses
2,862
Research
includes
equipment
and other research expenses
1,164
Transport
includes
car hire,
fuel,
taxis and other local transport
2,354
Base
includes
food and camping fees
656
Team recruitment
Arabia
as estimated % of PR cos
ts for Biosphere Expeditions
6,
773
Income
Expenditure
1,833
Total percentage spent directly on project
88
%
10
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
1.10
. Acknowledgements
This study was conducted by Biosphere Expeditions
,
which runs wildlife conservation
expeditions all over the gl
obe. Without our expedition team members (listed above) who
provided an expedition contribution and gave up their spare time to work as research
assistants, none of this research would have been possible. The support team and staff
(also mentioned above) w
ere central to making it all work on the ground. Biosphere
Expeditions would also like to thank
the DDCR
and its staff
,
and the Friends of Biosphere
Expeditions for their sponsorship and/or in
-
kind support.
1.11
. Further information & e
nquiries
More bac
kground information on Biosphere Expeditions in general and on this expedition
in particular including pictures, diary excerpts and a copy of this report can be found on the
Biosphere Expeditions website
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org
.
Copies of this and other expedition reports can
be accessed via
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org/reports
.
Enquires should be addressed to Biosphere Expeditions
via
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org/offices
.
11
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Please note: Each expedition report is written as a stand
-
alone document that can be read
without having to refer back to previous reports. As such, muc
h of this section, which
remains valid and relevant, is a repetition from previous reports, copied here to provide the
reader with an uninterrupted flow of argument and rationale.
2.
D
esert species
surveys
2.1. Introduction and background
The United Ara
b Emirates, and Dubai in particular, is well known for its rapid development
over the past 40 years
,
as well as for the mega
-
construction projects such as the Palm
Islands and the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building). Less well known is the diversit
y
and beauty of the natural environment, from the dugongs and corals in the Arabian Sea,
the flamingos in the khors (inlets) of the coastline, the rugged Hajar mountain range, to the
serene splendour of the sandy dune inland desert. Also little known is th
at the largest
piece of land given to any single project in Dubai was for the establishment of the
DDCR
at
225 km² or
4.7% of Dubai’s total land area.
Previous work 2012
201
6
Biosphere Expeditions and the DDCR first considered working together in
2011 and the
first joint expedition was run in 2012 in what has become an annual survey expedition
each January.
The aim
in
2012
(Bell et al. 2013
a
)
was to conduct the first systematic survey of Arabian
oryx (
Oryx leucoryx
) and Gordon’s wildcat (
Felis sil
vestris gordoni
) in the DDCR
. This was
achieved through three main survey activities: Gordon’s wildcat live capture survey and
camera trapping as well as Arabian oryx monitoring. In addition
,
the expedition team
recorded any other species observation or en
counters while in the field.
The live capture survey of 48 trap nights resulted in one capture of a feral hybrid cat. The
camera traps recorded 316 pictures over 56 camera days at a capture rate of 2.46
per
day
. Fourteen oryx herds where surveyed, which
gave a male:female sex ratio of 2:3 and
an average condition score of 2.81. In conjunction with the camera trap and Arabian oryx
monitoring data, the species encounters data provided a snapshot of species distribution
and diversity, which serve
d
as a compa
rative baseline for future expeditions data.
In
2013
(Bell et al. 2013b
)
, s
pecies studied included the Arabian oryx (classified by IUCN
as vulnerable
)
, other antelope species (sand and mountain gazelle,
Gazella
marica
and
Gazella gazella
), Gordon’s wildca
t as well as some major bird and reptile species.
A grid
methodology was adopted and f
orty
-
two grids 2 x 2 km in size
were surveyed within the
225 km
2
area of the DDCR
. Sample methods included encounter surveys, camera and live
trapping and body scoring (f
or oryx). It was found that mountain gazelle (87 encounters),
sand gazelle (26 encounters), Arabian red fox
(
Vulpes vulpes arabica
)
(24 camera trap
pictures) and Arabian oryx were common throughout most of the study area. Gordon’s
wildcat was not documente
d by camera or live traps, but only by tracks, which can be
misidentified. Because of this result, the DDCR
made
plans to enhanc
e the population
through the re
introduction of genetically pure, captive bred, Gordon’s wildcat.
12
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The body condition scoring fo
r oryx revealed malnutrition and supplementary feeding was
increased
by DDCR management
.
The expedition found that oryx distribution had
largely
shifted to the north of the reserve as a result of a sustained drought, but a few hardy and
now largely indepen
dent herds persist
ed
in the south. Sand gazelle populations shifted
northwards within the reserve as a result of expanding populations needing to establish
new, if less favourable territories. Nine lappet
-
faced vultures (
Torgos tracheliotos
)
, rare in
the U
nited Arab Emirates
(UAE)
, were recorded, showing that the DDCR is likely to be the
best habitat for this species in the UAE.
In
2014
(Bell & Hammer 2014)
, c
itizen scientists collected data on nine target species,
namely the Arabian oryx, Gordon’s wildca
t, mountain gazelle, sand gazelle, Arabian red
fox, sand fox (
Vulpes rueppellii
), Mac
Q
ueen’s bustard (
Chlamydotis macqueenii
), lappet
-
faced vulture and
p
haraoh eagle owl (
Bubo ascalaphus
). Data gathered alerted the DDCR
management to several conservation i
ssues and also allowed for informed, fact
-
based
management decisions to be made
,
in a showcase of how the work of citizen scientist
volunteers can aid the efforts of conservation professionals.
The
expedition body
-
scored 278 Arabian oryx for herd health
again, resulting in an
average score of 2.9, which is just below the fit and healthy score of 3.0.
After the feed
increase based on the 2013 expedition results, t
his
was
a highly satisfactory management
result.
A total of 206 mountain gazelles and 159 sa
nd gazelles were counted during the
expedition. Since the majority of these
were
likely to
have been
separate individuals, the
numbers found for both species
were considered to be
alarmingly high. It
was
evident that
under current conditions the reserve
co
uld not
sustain the present oryx and gazelle
populations without significant supplementary feeding. Furthermore, previous vegetation
surveys
showed
that the DDCR vegetation
was
already showing clear signs of
overgrazing. Therefore
,
the expedition concluded
that
a major management
requirement
was
the establishment of a gazelle carrying capacity for the DDCR, as well as self
-
sustaining control measures. Such control measures may include the removal of antelopes
from the reserve through translocation and the i
ntroduction of an apex predator such as
the Arabian wolf or hyaena to apply top
-
down pressure to the antelope populations.
There were no live captures of Gordon’s wildcats or feral cats during this expedition and
no Gordon’s wildcats were photographed by
camera traps. However, there was a possible
presence observed during the expedition in terms of tracks.
The expedition concluded that
it
is difficult to assess whether the DDCR’s Gordon’s wildcat population is stable,
increasing or declining
,
and more trap
ping is needed to assess this. Major threats to the
Gordon’s wildcat in the DDCR
were
likely to be the availability of food, as well as
hybridisation with feral cats.
A rare sand fox was caught by the expedition for the first time in the history of the D
DCR,
As a result of this capture,
it was concluded that
further expeditions
should
start targeting
this species in an attempt to obtain more information about it.
13
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Population modelling using the IDW (Inverse Distance Weighted Interpolation) and
diversity
indices methods show
ed
distributions in accordance with feed points and habitat
preferences. Oryx populations
were found to be
concentrated around the feed points, as
were
gazelles. Mountain gazelle distribution
was found to follow
their preferred stony/ro
cky
habitat distribution.
The Mac
Q
ueen’s bustard population
was found to be
small and very confined to specific
areas of the DDCR. A small increase in numbers
was
noticed. The lappet
-
faced vulture
was
seen fairly regularly as there is a good food source
on the DDCR for them. The goal
for both species is to have them breed in the reserve in future. Pharaoh eagle owl
was
a
concern and numbers
appeared to be
on the decline, probably due to the scarcity of rain
over the past few years, which affected the veg
etation and thereby rodents, which are the
owl’s primary food source.
In
2015
(Bell & Hammer 2015)
, c
itizen scientists
continued to
collected data on
the
nine
target species
of 2014 (see above).
258 oryx were counted in the reserve, most of them likel
y to be separate individuals. Oryx
dis
tribution in the reserve followed
artificial feeding points. However, there
were found to
be
too many oryx in the reserve and
it was recommended that
their numbers be reduced,
amongst other things in order to discontin
ue artificial feeding, which is not in line with the
DDCR’s goal of non
-
interference in the reserve.
The expedition report argued that t
his
reduction in numbers
could
be achieved through natural processes by introducing a top
predator (most likely the Arab
ian wolf) into the reserve as soon as fence upgrades
were
completed.
At 218 individuals counted, the mountain gazelle
was
at healthy population
levels. Its
distribution followed
habitat preference of vegetated dunes and areas of high vegetation
and water
around the Al Maha resort.
The sand gazelle population
was found to have grown,
success
fully expanding in the
reserve and
showing new distribution hotspots that mirror
ed
its preferred vegetated sand
dune habitats. Only 37
gazelles
were counted by the ex
pedition, but this
was
a reflection
of expedition participants being busy with many other tasks.
Gordon’s wildcats and sand foxes continue
d
to be rare and elusive, with no live or camera
captures
in 2015
. This is in contrast to red fox, which
was
abundan
t, dominating camera
captures alongside oryx.
Pharaoh eagle owls
were found again to be
in decline, probably due to low rodent prey
availability because of a prolonged drought, and due to the abundance of red fox, which
prey on the owl’s ground nests. Th
is
was found to be
a concern, which needs to be
addressed by management.
The Mac
Q
ueen’s bustard population
was found to
be small
again
with low nesting
incidences and success, despite favourable conditions. The reasons for this may be
another area for
fut
ure
expedition
s
to investigate.
14
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The lappet
-
faced vulture
was found to have
gone from rare to abundant and the DDCR is
now the best place in Dubai to observe vultures. However, no nesting
was
observed,
despite favourable conditions. This conundrum
was s
uggested to
be another area for
future expedition investigation.
A limited pilot rodent trapping effort in one habitat, yielding 13 individuals of one species
(Cheesman’s gerb
il
Gerbi
l
lus cheesmani
), suggested
that the rodent population
had
not
suffered g
reatly from the drought
conditions
and abundance of red foxes. This finding
was
in contrast to the pharaoh eagle owl
decline, which suggested
a decline in the rodent
population.
It was argued that r
odent trapping efforts
should
be expanded during future
ex
peditions to capture more species in a larger variety of habitats in order to corroborate
or disprove the
o
wl
decline hypothesis.
In
2016
(Simkins et al. 2016), the
expedition observed 498 Arabian oryx, 181 mountain
gazelle,
71 sand gazelle, 38 lappet
-
fac
ed vultures, 8 M
a
c
Q
ueen’s bustards, 2 red fox, 1
Arabian hare (
Lepus capensis
)
and 1 p
haraoh eagle owl.
An
improved survey
methodology of circular observations within each quadrant significantly improved data
quality, thereby improving predicted species di
stributions.
Live trapping was carried out for small
-
(rodents) and medium
-
(wildcat and fox) sized
mammals over a trapping effort of 72 and 83 trapping nights respectively. Trapping
success was very low, with only three Cheesman’s gerbils captured.
The
red fox den survey revisited 161 den sites and identified seven new dens. In the five
-
year period between surveys, the number of active dens has not decreased significantly,
although only 34% of den status
es
remained the same as in 2011. Twenty
-
five inac
tive
dens became active and 24 active dens became inactive. Only 18% of active dens were
abandoned, whereas 47% of inactive dens were abandoned.
C
amera traps
(unbaited in 2016)
capture
d
12 Arabian oryx, 4 Arabian Gazelle and 1
Arabian hare.
The expedit
ion survey results since 2012
showed
an increase of all the reserve’s ungulate
species and the management of the DDCR is well aware that in order to achieve the
stated aim of herd self
-
sustainability, the size of the ungulate populations will have to
match
the carrying capacity
for
ungulates
of
the DDCR as provided by the natural
vegetation. A long
-
term study to determine the carrying capacity of the reserve
is ongoing
.
In 2016
,
DDCR management suspected
that the population
levels exceeded
carrying
capacity
, especially during extended dry periods.
Control measures
considered
consist
ed
of a
com
bination of an apex predator reintroduction, species re
location and utilis
ation
.
15
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-
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-
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Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Background on species under investigation
Arabian oryx
(
Oryx leucoryx
)
is one of fou
r oryx species, all of which are adapted to ar
id
and semi
-
arid environments. L
ocally known by its Arabic name of
Al Maha
, the Arabian
oryx was first described in 1777. Endemic to the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian oryx’s
historical range was across Oman, S
audi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen,
Kuwait and Iraq, but the advent of firearms saw their rapid decline due to hunting all
across Arabia. Since 1986
the
Arabian oryx
has been
classified as “Endangered” on the
IUCN Red List, but was already "
v
ery rare and believed to be rapidly decreasing in
numbers
" in 1965. The Arabian oryx is the largest of the antelopes in the region and it is
very well adapted to the extremely arid environment. It is culturally significant in Arabia,
revered for its beauty
,
and is
common in poetry
and as a woman’s name, Maha.
Re
introduced into the DDCR in 1999, the population has steadily grown from the original
100 individuals to
nearly 5
00 today.
Figure 2.1a.
Arabian oryx
(
photo courtesy of
S. Bell)
.
The Arabian o
ry
x is a medium
-
sized antelope with a distinct shoulder bump, long straight
horns, and a tufted tail; it is a bovid, and the smallest member of
the o
ryx genus, native to
desert and steppe areas of the Arabian Peninsula
. The Arabian o
ryx was extinct in the wi
ld
by the early 1970s, but was saved in zoos and private preserves and reintroduced in
to the
wild starting in 1980. Arabian o
ryx prefer to range in gravel desert or hard sand, where
their speed and endurance will protect them from most predators, as well a
s most hunters
on foot. In the
DDCR
they are found in the hard sand areas of the flats between the soft
er
dunes and ridges. The diet of the Arabian o
ryx consist
s
mainly of grasses, but they will eat
a larg
e variety of vegetation, including
trees, buds, her
bs, fruit, tube
rs and roots. Herds of
Arabian o
ryx are known to follow infrequent rains to eat the
new plants that grow
afterward
s
(Talbo
t
1960).
16
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The
Gordon’s wildcat
(
Felis silvestris gordoni
)
is the same size as a domestic cat. The
background colour of
its coat ranges from reddish
and
sandy yellow to tawny brown
and
grey, and is typically marked with faint tabby stripes and spots.
Its
preferred habitat is the
vegetated dunes, gravel plains and mountains, in which
it
hunt
s
a carnivorous diet at night.
It
is thinly distributed throughout the Nubian, Saharan and Arabian deserts, where it is
generally restricted to mountains and dry watercourses. The biggest threat to the survival
of the Gordon’s wildcat as a species is the interbreeding with feral or domesti
c cats, which
could lead to its extinction as a distinct species. Very litt
le is known about the Gordon’s
w
ildc
at population within the DDCR. T
he last population estimate was done in 2004. The
expedition has enabled DDCR scientists to update information on
population size and
distribution as well as conduct a DNA study of the species; information that is important for
informed management decisions to be made and threats to be averted.
Fig
ure 2.1b
.
Gordon’s wildcat
(
photo courtesy of
P.
Roosen
s
choon)
.
T
he
Arabian or m
ountain gazelle
(
Gazella gazella
)
has a delicate body
of 10 to 14 kg
and can reach speeds of 65 km
/h
if it needs to escape danger. The mountain gazelle has
a pure white belly with a dark to black stripe on its flanks that change
s
to dark bei
ge or
brown on the back, the neck and the head. The facial markings consist of various shades
of brown with two white stripes extending from the eyes towards the nostrils. Females can
give birth to
a
single fawn during any month, but with natural peaks in
spring and autumn.
Most grazing activity takes place at dawn and dusk.
It
rest
s
during the hottest hours of the
day under any shelter available, which may be a cave for tho
se that inhabit the mountains.
Usually moving in small groups of four to six animals
,
the species is
highly territorial, with
the dominant male continuously marking its territory with a wax
-
like substance
,
which it
produces in glands below the eyes. The substance is deposited by
the gazelle
rubbing its
head against a bush, a branch or a s
tone. The group also maintains several places within
its territory
,
which
it
establish
es
as "toilets". The animals usually only defecate and u
rinate
at these sites. As with o
ryx and sand gazelle
,
mountain gazelles
do not need to drink
water, but will read
i
ly do so if water is available
(Grubb 2005).
17
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-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Figure 2.1c
.
Arabian
gazelle
(photo courtesy of
G. Simkins
)
.
The
sand gazelle’s
(
Gazella leptoceros
)
elegantly curved horns of both males and
females are considerably longer than those of other gazelles occ
urring in the area. The
animals are very light in colour, the head completely white in older animals, with back and
flanks light beige. The belly is white and there is no darker stripe between the white
underside and the beige flanks and back of the gazell
e. Contrasting with the overall pale
body are the black eyes, nostril and mouth. Their colouring is obviously an adaptation to
the habitat they favour, which are the open sands. They are absent from the mountains.
The sand gazelle is the only antelope in t
his area that regularly gives birth to twins, and
thi
s usually in spring and autumn.
The young spend their first days in shallow scrapes, or
under a small bush, until they are strong
enough to move with the adults
(
UAEI
nteract
201
2
)
.
Figure 2.1d
.
Sand
gazelle
(p
hoto
courtesy of
G. Simkins
18
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
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Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The
Arabian red fox
(
Vulpes vulpes arabica
)
is w
idespread in the region. Highly
adaptable, it inhabits virtually every environment and lives in the cities along the coast, the
desert and the mountains. However, it d
oes not seem to penetrate areas such as the Liwa
with soft sand and high dunes. An omnivorous animal
,
it will eat almost anything, from
dead fish on the beach, to dates, carrion and of course small mammals and birds, which it
a
ctively hunts during the nigh
t.
The cubs, numbering up to six per litter, are raised in a
burrow that the vixen excavates herself and often uses year after year.
Cubs
are born in
early spring, fully furred but blind
;
their eyes open after about 10 days. At the age of four
weeks they s
tart taking solid food and this is also the time when they begin exploring the
surroundings of their burrow. Soon after this they follow the vixen on short hunting trips. As
it
lack
s
the long dense fur of the European fox
,
the
Arabian fox
appear
s
to have
a
thin
body
and long legs, but proportionally they are the s
ame, with the exception of the
ears.
These are larger and have thousands of tiny blood vessels that help the
Arabian
fox to
maintain its body temperature. Reddish to sandy
-
brown,
its
colour has ada
pted to the
environment in which
it is
living
(Harrison and Bates 1991
, Hellyer 1993
)
.
Figure 2.1e
.
Arabian red fox
(p
hoto
courtesy of
J
.
Babbington
19
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-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The
san
d
fox
(
Vulpes rueppellii
)
, also
know as Ruppell’s,
Rueppell’s
or Rüppel’s
fox, is a
species
of fox living in North Africa and the Middle East, from
Morocco to Afghanistan and
the southwestern parts of Pakistan.
It has an average life expectancy of up to
six
or
seven
years in the wild, but
can live longer in captivity. Sand
foxes are about 40
-
52
c
m
long and
have an average weight of 1.7
kg.
It is a very small canine, and is consider
ably smaller
tha
n
the red fox.
It is sandy in colour and has black patches
on the muzzle, as well as a
white
-
tipped tail. The sand
fox relies on sc
ent glands for many ac
tivities.
It uses them to
mark territories as well as to spray
at
unwanted predators, similar to the behavio
ur of the
skunk. The female sand
fox uses her scent glands to mark the cu
b
bing den. Another use
for the scent glands is to greet each ot
her. Sand
fo
x
es
can bark, in a way similar to a dog.
During the mating season,
they
travel
in monogamous groups, or a male and a female, but
after
the
breeding season, the fox reportedly moves in family groups of 3
-
15 individuals
.
One animal occupies about 50
-
69
km
2
o
f territory,
with
the male's territory
larger than that
of the female
.
The san
d
fox is nocturnal and gregarious.
A
nimals change dens often, and
will abandon a den if there is a dangerous disturbance in the area
. Most dens are dug
under rocks
or under trees
.
The sand
fox was pushed to living in the desert biome due to competition with its larger
cousin, the red fox. It is known as being an extremely good survivor.
It is
preyed upon
only
by the steppe e
agl
e and the eagle owl.
A solitary forager and omnivore
, it
will eat almost
anything that crosses its path.
I
t is
mostly
an insectivore, but its diet also consists of tubers
and roots, as well as small mammals, reptiles, eggs, and ar
achnids.
The female
sand
fox
has a gestation period of around 51
53 days. She
has 2
-
3
offspring
, and each is born
blind. They are weaned at 6
8 weeks of age. They are born underground
as protection
from predators.
Figure 2.1f
.
Sand fox
(photo courtesy of
R. Ingram
)
.
20
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The
M
ac
Q
ueen’s b
ustard
(
Chlamydotis macqueenii
)
is a large
bi
rd
in the bustard
family. It breeds in southwestern Asia
, in
deserts and other very arid sandy areas. It is
brown above and white below, with a black stripe down the sides of its neck. In flight, the
long wings show large areas of black and brown on the fl
ight feathers. Sexes are similar,
but the female is smalle
r and greyer above.
The Mac
Q
ueen’s bustard
has recently been
split as a sep
arate species from the Houbara b
ustard (
Chlamydotis undulata
) of the
Canary Islands and North Africa. These two species are
the only members of the
Chlamydotis
genus
(
Ali
1993)
.
The dividing line between the two species is the S
inai
Peninsula.
The
Mac
Q
ueen’s has a greater tendency to wan
der than the
more
sedentary
Houbara bustard.
Both
species
have
been hu
nted to near
-
extincti
on
. Conservation efforts
by the late
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
in the
UAE
have given so
me hope for the
future of
the Mac
Q
ueen’s
b
ustard
.
Figure 2.1g
.
Mac
Q
ueen’s bustard
(photo courtesy of
S. Bell
).
21
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
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Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The
l
appet
-
faced v
ulture
(
Torgos trachelio
tos
)
is a mostly
African Old
World
v
ulture
belonging to the
bird
order
Accipitriformes
,
which also includes
eagles
,
kites
,
buzzards
and
hawks
.
It is
usually found in undisturbed open country
, at
elevation
s from sea level to
4,500
m (
Ferguson
-
Lees & Christi
e
2001),
with a scattering of trees and
it
apparently
prefer
s
areas with minimal grass cover. While foraging,
it
can wander into denser habitats
and even into human habituated areas, especially if drawn to road kills.
The species is
fairly rare in the
UAE
,
but good sightings have been made in the DDCR and it is the best
place
in the UAE to find the species
. It is hope
d
that
it
will start to nest in the DDCR
in the
near future.
Figure 2.1h
.
Lappet
-
faced vulture
(photo courtesy of G. Simkins
22
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
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nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The
phara
oh
eagle
o
wl
(
Bubo ascalaphus
)
or
desert eagle owl
was
heard every evening
around the camp
. These o
wls can be found in
r
ocky deserts and semi
-
deserts, gorges,
cliffs,
and
rocky mountain slopes.
During the day they
are mostly seen sleeping under fire
b
ushes
(
Leptadenia pyrotec
h
nica
) and will take flight if disturbed.
Figure 2.1i
.
Pharaoh eagle owl
(photo courtesy of
G. Simkins
23
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
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nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
2.2. Methods
Ex
pedition participants assisted DDCR s
cientists in
four
importan
t surveys
: live trapping
(targeting Gordon’s w
ildcat),
fox den survey,
camera t
rapping
and
ungulate
m
onitoring
(Arabian oryx, Arabian gazelle, sand gazelle)
. I
n addition to these surveys
,
the
participants
were
t
asked
with
record
ing
any
other
species while in the field.
Figure 2.2a.
The DDCR and
its survey zones (North = green, Central = red, South = yellow).
The perimeter zone comprises all other zones within the DDCR.
24
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
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nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
After a training period that lasted one and a half days,
participant
s
were split into
four
groups to condu
ct the various surveys
, in
four
separate zones of the DDCR, namely a
North Z
one,
Central Zone
,
South
Zone
and Perimeter Zone (see Figure 2.2a)
.
Each zone
comprised
f
if
teen
2 x 2 km
quadrants
, the
perimeter
zone comprised of 17 partial
quadrants
.
These
62
quadrants together repr
esented
approximately 214
km² of the 225
km² of the DDCR (or
95
%). The
area include
d all key habitats of
vegetated dunes, sand
dunes and gravel plains.
E
very
day
each
group
of
expedition participants
was tasked to survey
four
quadrants
or
approximately
16
km²
.
A total of
62
quadrants (
214
km²
) were
surveyed
in this way during
the ex
pedition.
During
surveys any
target species encounters
were
recorded
in the
relevant data
sheets.
Target
s
pecies
q
uadrant survey
A more structured approach to the target speci
es survey was implemented
by this
expedition
, based on the experiences
from
previous expeditions
.
I
t involved the selection
of one observation point
within 300
m of
the centre of the
quadrant
, which provided a good
vantage point
. From this vantage point
a
360º
circular observation of the surrounding area
was carried out by
four
participants with binoculars for 30 minutes.
Target species as described above and encountered during the
se
surveys were recorded
in the datasheets as follows: species
name
, positio
n of researcher when the species was
first seen, distance and bearing from researcher to target species, time of day when the
species was observed, ecological information such as number of animals, sexes etc.,
additional comments.
In addition, for the firs
t time on
this project,
trees and large shrubs
were
counted as well
.
During analysis, IDW (Inverse Distance Weighted Interpolation) was used to predict the
value (abundance and distribution of species sampled at each cell) of cells at locations
that lack
sampled points (ESRI
2012
). Inverse distance weighted methods determine cell
values using a linear
-
weighted combination set of sampling points and
are
based on the
assumption that the interpolating surface should be influenced mostly by the nearby points
a
nd less by the more distant points. The interpolating surface is a weighted average of the
scatter points
,
and the weight assigned to each scatter point diminishes as the distance
from the interpolation point to the scatter point increases. Abundance count
s over the
study area were used as input and predictions were applied to all the species recorded
using ESRI
®
Arc Map 10.0 spatial analyst extensions.
Live
traps
for medium
-
sized animals
Four
Tomahawk live traps
w
ere used during the expedition for the purpose of capturing
Gordon’s wildcat. At the beginning of the expedition, each survey group was given
a
live
trap
to place within their allocated zon
es
(North, South
,
Central
and Perimeter
zones).
Each group marked t
he posit
ion of the live trap in the GPS. T
he live traps were
baited with
tinned sardines and
left out in the field for five nights
, resulting in a total of
20
trap nights
.
The bait was placed right at the back of the trap (using
an extendable reacher/grabb
er)
,
forcing the
animal
to step onto
a
pressure plate
to trigger the trap
. The pressure plate was
covered with sand to give the trap a more natural feel and to ensure that the target species
wa
s at ease when entering the trap.
25
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Each morning
groups set out
into their zones
to
check
each of their live trap
s
. This
involved
check
ing
the surroundings of the traps for a possible presence/absence
record
from tracks
around the
trap
,
to see if the trap had
been disturbed or investigated by a
Gordon’s
wildcat
or
a fe
ral cat
.
Where necessary, traps w
ere re
baited.
Arabian red fox den survey
The Arabian red fox is the largest predator within the DDCR, so it is important to monitor
its population. The red fox is both a nocturnal and cryptic species, so direct counts are
unreliable. A better method of monitoring the population is through a count of their dens.
This was initially done by DDCR staff in 2011
and then repeated in 2016 with the help of
Biosphere Expeditions
,
when all dens were classified as either active
,
inac
tive
or
abandoned
based on signs of fox activity such as
tracks,
fresh digging, prey remains and
fresh
scat
.
During the 201
7
exped
ition all dens sites were re
visited and once again classified based
on signs of fox activity
,
with an additional classificati
on of abandoned when the den had
filled in with sand. In addition
,
any new dens found were
recorded
and classified
.
Camera trapping
As many species in the desert environment are both nocturnal and elusive, it is difficult to
gather reliable information
on their populations. A camera trap triggers when an animal
passes in front of an infrared and/or motion detector. This has the advantage of detecting
with equal efficiency both nocturnal and diurnal activities with minimal environmental
disturbance.
Eig
hteen
camera traps (
t
hree
Reconyx
RC60
,
fi
v
e
Reconyx
Hyperfire
and ten
Bushnell
Trophy Cam HD
) were used during the expedition
,
four
camera
s
in four
zone
s, plus two
extras
.
Predetermined quadrants in each of the zones were chosen for the survey groups
to set their camera traps in, close to water sources.
As in 2016,
t
he traps were
not baited
(as this tended to attract red foxes, probably keeping Gordon’s wildcats away as a re
sult)
and left out in the field for
f
ive
days
, resulting in
potentially
90
trap nights.
26
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
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-
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Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
2.3
. Results
Species encounters
Table
2.3a
Species encountered during the expedition.
Encounter method
S = sig
h
ting, L = live trap, C= camera trap.
Common name
La
tin name
Birds
Egyptian goose S C
Alopochen aegyptiaca
Northern pintail S
Anas acuta
Pallid harrier S
Circus macrourus
Shikra S
Accipiter badius
Long
-
legged buzzard S
Buteo rufinus
Bonelli’s eagle S
Aquila fasciatus
Common kestrel S
Falco tin
nunculus
Mac
Q
ueen’s
bustard S
Chlamydotis macqueenii
Cream
-
coloured courser S
Cursorius cursor
Red
-
wattled lapwing S C
Vanellus indicus
Feral pigeon S C
Col
u
mba livia
Eurasian collared dove S C
Streptopelia decaocto
Laughing dove S C
Spilopelia s
enegalensis
Pharaoh eagle owl S
Bubo ascalaphus
Short
-
eared owl S
Asio flammeus
Eurasian hoopoe S
Upupa epops
Southern grey shrike S
Lanius meridionalis
Arabian babbler S
Turdoides squamiceps
Brown
-
necked raven S C
Corvus ruficollis
Crested lar
k S C
Galerida cristata
White
-
eared bulbul S
Pycnonotus leucotis
Greater
oopoe lark S
Alaemon alaudipes
Black
-
crowned sparrow
-
lark S C
Eremopterix nigriceps
Barn swallow S
Hirundo rustica
Asian desert warbler S
Sylvia nana
Common redstart S
Phoen
icurus phoenicurus
Isabelline wheatear S
Oenanthe isabellina
Desert wheatear CS
Oenanthe deserti
Pied wheatear S
Oenanthe pleschanka
House
s
parrow S C
Passer domesticus
Mammals
Arabian oryx S C
Oryx leu
c
oryx
Arabian hare S C
Lepus capensis
Arabian red fox S C
Vulpes vulpes
arabica
Arabian gazelle S C
Gazella gazella cora
Sand gazelle S C
Gazella subgutturosa marica
Cheesmans gerbil S
Gerbillus cheesmani
27
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-
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-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
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Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Table 2.3a (continued)
Species encountered during the expedition.
Encounter
method S = sighting, L = live trap, C=
camera trap.
Common name
Latin name
Reptiles
Arabian toad
-
headed agama S
Phrynocephalus arabicus
White spotted lizard S
Acanthodactylus schmidti
Sandfish S
Scincus scincus
Least semaphore gecko S
Pri
sturus minimus
Arthropods
Wolf spider S
Lycosidae Spp.
Dimorphic cockroach S
Blatta lateralis
Sulphurous jewel beetle S
Julodis Euphratica cast
e
lnau
Arabian darkling beetle S
Pimelia arabica
Urchin beetle S
Prionotheca cornata
Desert runner (an
t) S
Catagl
y
phis niger
Butterflies
Desert white S
Pontia glauconome
Blue
-
spotted Arab S
Colotis phisa
dia
Indian (small) cupid S
Chilades parrhasius
Painted lady S
Vanessa cardui
Plain tiger S
Danaus chrysippus
Of the target species, t
he 201
7
expedition observed
345
Arabian
oryx,
360
mountain
gazelle
,
69
sand gazelle
,
2
r
ed
f
ox,
5
Arabian
h
are and
3
p
haraoh
e
agle
owls
.
Ungulate s
urvey
Over the years
,
the ungulate counts conducted by Biosphere Expeditions
have shown an
inconsistenc
y
when comp
ared to the established methodology of weekly
counts by DDCR
staff, which
focus mainly on wildlife support infrastructure such as feed spots, waterholes
and irrigated areas
. This may be a
result of the differing emphase
s year to year of the
expedition
s,
wh
ich can result in skewed data
(see Figure 2.3a)
.
For example,
w
hen the
expedition
task was primarily
body condition scoring
,
citizen scientists
spent a lot of time
with the oryx herds res
ulting in a much higher count than simple observations.
Arabian o
ryx
In 2017
,
an emphasis on collecting good data from all the circular observation
s
meant that
results
differed from previous years
,
which had more emphasis on aspects of the oryx herd
such as condition s
coring to estimate herd health.
This resulted in
very
few
counts/observations at the feed
s
pots
in 2017
and
therefore
a greatly reduced final count
of Arabian o
ryx
when compared to both the
2016
Biosphere Expeditions
count
,
as well as
the DDCR weekly
count. This is also reflected
in the predicted distribution
of Arabian o
ryx
acr
oss the DDCR,
with fewer area
s
with a
high concentration of animals
not reflecting the
true distribution of the reserve
s oryx herd
(see Figure 2.3b).
28
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Arabian gazelle
The focus on collecting good data from both circular and random obs
ervations greatly
improved the counts of Arabian gazelle when compared to the results from 2016
,
and was
consistent with the DDCR weekly counts. As the natural behaviour of Arabian gazelle is
smaller family groups, which are more widely distributed and wit
h very few congregations
of large groups, the revised survey methodology is well suited to obtaining an accurate
estimate of thei
r population and distribution.
This is reflected in their predicted distribution
,
with consistent distribution of
one to three
individuals across the DDCR
, as well as
a
number of groups of
four to six
individuals distributed throughout the reserve. The hotspots
of greater
than seven
animals
observed
could be due to bachelor herds that are generally
larger in number than family gro
ups
(see Figure 2.3c)
.
Sand gazelle
The counts of
sand
gazelle are consistent with both the previous year’s count and the
regular DDCR counts
,
and can be considered an accurate estimate of the population
within the DDCR. Predicted distribution has contra
cted from that of 2016 with some areas
predicted not to have any sand gazelle. However, the hotspots are consistently in the
southwest of the DDCR and correlate to a concentration of individuals at Tawi Ghadier
irrigated area (see Figure 2.3d).
Large shru
b survey
Data on the distribution of vegetation, in particular large shrubs and trees
,
were collected
for the first time. Nearly 10,000 plants were counted during the circular observations. The
dominant species was
f
ire
b
ush
(
Leptadenia pyrotechnica
) (8,8
88),
followed by
the
congregated g
haf trees
(
Procera cine
ra
ria
)
(823)
,
date palms
(
Phoenix dactylifera
)
(140)
and the more widely distributed
Sodom’s
a
pple
(
Calotropis procera
)
(112).
Predicted
distribution of the two shrub species
fire bush and Sodom’s
apple
-
have provided the
DDCR management with the most accurate picture to date of the distribution of these two
indicator species for the
reserve’s
habitat
(see Figure 2.3e).
29
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Figure 2.3a.
Comparative chart of ungulate
numbers recorded by the expe
dition
(intensive survey of one week duration, once a year)
A
nd
DDCR feedspot counts (
during the same week as the expedition
)
.
30
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Figure 2.
3b
.
Arabian oryx distribution 201
7
vs. 2016. Predicted distribution calculations are based on
observation
data
.
31
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Fi
gure 2.3
c
.
Arabian gazelle distribution 201
7
vs. 2016. Predicted distribution
is
based on
observation
data
.
32
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Figure 2.3
.
Sand gazelle distribution 201
7
vs. 2016. Predicted distribution calculations are based on
observation
data
.
33
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
2.3
e
.
Distribution of
two key plant species
, Sodom’s
a
pple
(left)
and
f
ire
b
ush
(right)
.
Predicted distribution calculations are based on
observation
data
.
34
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Live traps for medium
-
sized animals
No Gordon’s wildcats or sand f
oxes were caught in the traps
.
There was a presence in
the
form of fox tracks
a
t the trap in Quadrant E12 and c
at tracks at the trap in Quadrant H8
.
Arabian
r
ed
f
ox
d
en
s
urvey
Compared with 2016, t
he 2017 survey shows a 59% reduction in the number of active
dens
, most
of
which were abandoned
,
and a 25% red
uction of inactive dens
, of which only
two
dens became active
(see T
able
2.3
b
)
.
There were
,
however
,
44 new den sites (14
active, 21 inactive and nine a
bandoned) discovered
in 2017 compared to only seven
new
sites found in 2016.
Table 2.3b
.
Results of
the
Arabian red fox den surveys in 2011
,
2016
and 2017
.
Status
2011
2016
2017
Active
66
59
24
Inactive
95
52
39
Abandoned
57
138
TOTAL
161
168
201
Status changes
Unchanged
56
65
New a
ctive
14
Inactive to a
ctive
25
Abandoned to a
ctiv
New
i
nactive
21
Active to i
nactive
24
Abandoned to i
nactive
New a
bandoned
Active to a
bandoned
12
44
Inactive to a
bandoned
44
38
The density estimates of
Arabian
r
ed
f
ox dens in the DDCR
(Figure 2.3f
)
were calculated
using A
rcGIS software tools based on Kernel density estimates. High
den
densities were
,
as expected, within relatively well
-
vegetated areas
,
dominated by large shrubs
,
in
particular
Leptadenia
pyrotechnica
,
which
meet the habitat requirements of providing a
stabl
e
soil substrate
supported by the shrub
s root system.
However,
there was a shift in
the highest den densities to the southern sector of the reserve
,
which is dominated by
Haloxy
l
on
salicornicum
,
which has a similar effect on the soil structure. Less human
disturbance
in the south of the reserve
may
be the main contributing factor to this shift.
35
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Figure 2.3
f
.
A
rabian red fox den distribution in 201
7 (left) and 2016
.
36
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Camera trapping
Of the 18
traps set
,
there were two traps that failed to
produce any mean
ingful photos.
T
his resulted in a total of 76 trapping days that captured 4
,
064 images
,
of which 3
,
312
were live images and 2
,
363 of these contained
naturally occurring fauna and 713
contained humans or vehicles
(see Figure 2.3g
, Table 2.3c
)
.
Arabian oryx
was the most abundant species recorded with 3,607 counted in all the
photos, followed by Arabian gazelle with 1,165. High numbers (893) of feral pigeons were
recorded, all from one site (BE17). Arabian red fox was the next most abundant species
with 272 c
ounted across 13 of the 16 camera trap sites, making them, along with Arabian
oryx, the most widely distributed species recorded. Of the target species, the Arabian hare
was recorded seven times across two sites. No Gordon’s wildcat or sand fox were
record
ed.
81%
14%
4%
1%
Animal
Blank
Setup/Pickup
Unidentifiable
Figure
2.
3g
.
Results of camera trapping
2017
.
37
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Table 2.3
c
.
Results of
camera trapping 2017.
Trap
n
ame
Latitude
Longitude
Arabian
o
ryx
Arabian
g
azelle
Sand
g
azelle
Red f
ox
Arabian
h
are
Brown
-
necked
r
aven
Egyptian
g
oose
Red
-
wattled
l
apwing
Crested
l
ark
Eurasian
vollared
d
ove
Laughing
Dove
Black
-
crowned
sparrow
-
l
ark
Fera
l
p
igeon
House
s
parrow
Total
DDCR1
24.870435
55.677649
519
528
DDCR3
24.883820
55.665069
37
52
DDCR4
24
.871238
55.661002
16
19
DDCR5
24.898310
55.664974
36
62
DDCR6
24.788745
55.671468
49
29
82
DDCR7
24.779626
55.717780
22
151
15
194
DDCR8
24.766412
55.6474
62
78
78
BE11
24.980838
55.662628
15
40
12
67
BE13
24.741205
55.657025
18
27
BE14
24.804034
55.689942
65
48
27
140
BE15
24.810481
55.663280
174
183
BE16
24.819276
55.717691
2454
68
2532
BE17
24.893147
55.615748
26
881
11
24
893
1841
BE18
24.846395
55.653008
87
16
105
BE19
24.820712
55.703234
47
15
62
BE20
24.841635
55.699843
53
96
12
164
Total
3607
1165
14
272
68
24
59
893
6136
38
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
2.4. Discussion and Conclusion
DDCR ungulates (Arabian oryx, Arabian gazelle, sand gazelle)
The relatively high numbers
of
ungulates within the DDCR continue to
be a challenge
for
the DDCR as we need to balance the welfare of the individual animals with the health of
the desert ecosystem. The supply of supplementary feed for the oryx herd address both
these aspects
,
with addi
tion
al
food available for individuals while at the
same time limiting
the impact of overgrazing on the ecosystem. However
,
high levels of nutrition
do
result in
good breeding and therefore exponential population growth
,
which is not sustainable in the
long
run.
Management will continue to assess different options to reduce the number of
ungulates on the reserve.
These include
translocation of animals to other reserves within
the natural home range of the species and introduction of predators to reduce popul
ation
growth.
Live traps for medium
-
sized animals
The limited success of the trapping for medium
-
sized mammals is expected over the short
period of the expedition and
as such is unlikely to
reflect
the
true status of the target
species, Gordon’s wildcat
and sand f
ox, within the DDCR.
A study over a longer period,
including the different seasons and a sustained trapping effort
,
would provide data that
could help in assessing the population status of these species.
However
,
even without
such a sustained tra
pping effort,
the data collected from any capture, including size, weight
and sex
,
add to the growing database of these target species within the DDCR.
Red fox den survey
The results of the r
ed fox den survey
have shown a
significant
difference from the
previous
surveys in 2011 and 2016, with a marked reduction in the number of active dens. This was
surprising
,
as observations of rodent dens and tracks would suggest a
good prey base.
T
he high number
of
new den sites could
be an indication of expansion in
range and
suitable habitat
even though
the
overall number of active dens has reduced
. H
owever
,
the
increased survey effort in 2017 could also have resulted in the discovery of new den sites.
The continued monitoring of the red fox dens
now
becomes even mor
e important in light of
these results
,
as a continued decline could be indicative of a threat to the population within
the
reserve that may require a management intervention.
Camera trapping
Increases in the number of camera traps
,
as we
ll as improvemen
ts in their set
up and
placement
,
resulted in a vastly improved return of pictures
,
the majori
ty of which were
natural fauna.
This include
d
seven p
hotos of the nocturnal Arabian h
are and o
ver 270
records of the Arabian red f
ox.
However, the rare and
cryptic
species within the DDCR,
namely
Gordon’s wildcat and sand fox, were once
again
not recorded. Continued camera
trap surveys are therefore still needed to monitor
their
presence in the DDCR.
Having said this,
p
opulations of both these species are and have
always been very small
in the DDCR and are a cause for concern
in terms of
viab
ility. Long
-
term cap
ture
-
mark
-
recapture
studies
are probably the only way to
establish true population sizes. However,
this type of study is not possible
with short
-
term citizen
science expeditions.
39
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
As such
,
c
amer
a traps
only help to give
an
indication
,
as animals are not individually
identifiable from p
ictures, but they do provide important information about
presence and
distribution
, and are a good way to utilise citizen scien
ce support.
Management c
onsiderations
The DDCR management has received ap
proval to translocate Arabian o
ryx from the
reserve to other protected areas and zoological collections within the region
and this will
alleviate some of the pressure of a growing p
opulation
on the environment.
T
he re
introduction of a
n apex predator
to
restore a natural
ecological process
by
putting
top
-
down pressure on the ungulate population
, will continue to be explore
d
to
hopefully
find a socially acceptable
solution
, as
s
imila
r re
introductions elsewhere have also had
numerous other benefits to the function of the ecosystem
(see
Berger 2002,
We
is et al
2007
)
.
The Arabian red f
ox will need to be closely monitored due to the s
udden reduction in active
dens. If any recently
decea
sed foxes are found in the DDCR
,
the opportunity to perform a
post mortem should be taken to ascertain the cause of death
,
as disease could be a
potential cause of the sudden decline.
Recommended activities and actions for the 201
8
expedition
The kind o
f citizen science projects run by Biosphere E
xpeditions are ideally suited to
the
DDCR’s research needs, which
require a large area to be surv
eyed in a short period of
time.
Therefore
:
W
e will
continue
the q
uadrant survey with the circular observations
in
2018,
as this
provides the DDCR management with valuable data collected
on the size and
distribution
of many
species across the
entire
reserve
.
I
n addition
,
feed spot counts will be included to impr
ove the quality of the Arabian
o
ryx counts
.
Due to th
e drastic reduction of active dens
,
t
he red f
ox den survey
will be
of
particular importance in 2018 as continued declines in the number of active dens
would be significant
(and worrying)
for the reserve
’s population of red f
ox.
All den
s
,
including abandone
d dens
,
will be survey
ed
.
Camera trapping will be
continued as we survey the DDCR for the
presence and
distribution of
Gord
on’s wildcat and sand f
ox
.
Finally
,
we will
attempt
to
do some live trapping
of Gordon’s wildcat as well as sand
f
ox i
n the reserve
,
with an emphasis
on the collection of morphological data of
individuals within the DDCR.
40
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
2.5.
Literature cited
Ali, S. (1993)
The Book of Indian Birds
. Bombay: Bombay Natural History Society
, Bombay.
Bell, S., P. Roosenschoon, G. Simki
ns, M. Hammer and A. Stickler (2013a)Ways of the
desert: conserving Arabian oryx, Gordon’s wildcat and other species of the Dubai Desert
Conservation Reserve, United Arab Emirates. Expedition report 2012 available via
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org/reports
.
Bell
,
S.
,
M.
Hammer
and A. Stickler (2013
b
) Ways of the desert:
conserving Arabian oryx,
Gordon’s wildcat and other species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, United Arab
Emirates.
Exp
edition report
2013
available via
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org/reports
.
Bell
,
S. and M. Hammer (2014) Ways of the desert: conserving Arabian oryx, Gordon’s wildcat
and other species of the Dub
ai Desert Conservation Reserve, United Arab Emirates.
Expedition report
2014
available via
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-
expeditions.org/reports
.
Bell, S. and M. Hammer (2015) Ways of the desert: conserving Ar
abian oryx, Gordon’s wildcat
and other species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, United Arab Emirates.
Expedition report 2015 available via
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org/reports
.
Berger
,
J.
(2002)
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(Spring):
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(Environmental Systems Resource Institute)
(
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)
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2012 ESRI Inc., Redlands, California. USA.
Ferguson
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Lees,
J. & Christie, D. A.
(2001)
Raptors of the World
. Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt,
London.
Grubb, P. (2005)
"Gazella gazella". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the
World (3rd edition). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 637
722.
Harrison
, D
.
a
nd
P.
Bates
(1991)
The Mammals of Arabia (2
nd
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Museum Pub
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Helly
er, P. (1993
) Mammals. Tribulus 3(1):
29.
Simkins, G., S. Bell and M. Hammer (2016)
Ways of the desert: conserving Arabian oryx,
Gordon’s wildcat an
d other species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, United Arab
Emirates. Expedition report 2016 available via
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org/reports
.
Talbot, L. (1960) A look at threatene
d species. The Fauna Preservation Society. pp. 84
91.
UAE
interact (
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Weis, A., T. Kroeger, J. H
aney and N. Fascione
(2007)
Predator
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Prey Workshop: Social and
Ecological Benefits of Restored Wolf Populations
. Transactions of the 72th North American
Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Portland, Oregon.
41
© Biosphere Expeditions, an international not
-
for
-
profit conservation organisation registered in England, Germany, France, Australia and the USA
Officially accredited member of the United Nations Enviro
nment Programme's Governing Council & Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Officially accredited member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
Appendix
1
:
Expedition diary & reports
A multimedia expedition diary is available on
http://biospher
eexpeditions.wordpress.com/category/expedition
-
blogs/arabia
-
2017/
All expedition reports, including this and previous expedition reports,
are available on
www.biosphere
-
expeditions.org/r
eports
.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Research
Full-text available
Abstract This study was part of an expedition to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in the United Arab Emirates run by Biosphere Expeditions from 15 to 23 January 2012. The aim was to conduct the first systematic survey of Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) and Gordon’s wildcat (Felis silvestris gordoni) in this area. This was achieved through three main survey activities: Gordon’s wildcat live capture survey and camera trapping as well as Arabian oryx monitoring. In addition the expedition team members also recorded any other species observation or encounters while in the field. The live capture survey of 48 trap nights resulted in one capture of a feral hybrid cat. The camera traps recorded 316 pictures over 56 camera days at a capture rate of 2.46. Fourteen oryx herds where surveyed, which gave a male:female sex ratio of 2:3 and an average condition score of 2.81. In conjunction with the camera trap and Arabian oryx monitoring data, the species encounters data provided a snapshot of species distribution and diversity, which will serve as a comparative baseline for future expeditions data. Through provision of a long-term dataset, surveys will give managers a better understanding of the Arabian oryx and Gordon’s wildcat population in the reserve. Data on movement, habitat and food preferences, as well as inter- and intra-species interaction will help managers ascertain major threats and help improve management. الملخص العربى يعتبر هذا التقرير جزءاً ونتيجة للرحلات الإستكشافية والتى تمت داخل حدود محمية دبى الصحراوية فى دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة. تشرف على إقامة تلك الرحلات الإستكشافية البحثية مجموعة (بيوسفير الإستكشافية) بالتعاون وتحت إشراف إدارة وباحثين محمية دبى الصحراوية وذلك فى الفترة من 15 يناير وحتى 23 يناير لسنة 2012 ميلادية. إن الهدف الأساسى لتلك الدراسات والرحلات البحثية هو إجراء مسوح ودراسات على أساس علمى ومنهجى وذلك لكل من حيوان المها العربى وكذلك للقط جوردون البرى وقد تحقق ذلك من خلال تطبيق ثلاث أنشطة رئيسية لدراسة جميع مناطق المحمية: 1- وضع العديد من المصائد للإمساك بالقط جوردون البرى. 2- مراقبة الحياة البرية عن طريق مصائد الكاميرات. 3- مراقبة ودراسة طبيعة طرق حياة المها العربى. بالإضافة إلى ذلك قام أعضاء الفريق بتسجيل ملاحظاتهم عند وجود أى أنواع أخرى لم يتم تسجليها من قبل داخل المحمية. - تم نصب وتثبيت ثمانية وأربعون مصيدة كل ليلة من أجل محاولة الإمساك بالقط جوردون البرى ولكن للأسف كانت هناك صعوبة فى ذلك وفى المقابل تم إصطياد قط من الأنواع الهجينة الضالة. - تم تسجيل ثلاثمائة وستة عشر صورة على مدار ستة وخمسون يوماً من خلال الكاميرات بمعدل تسجيل حوالى 2.5. - تم مراقبة أربعة عشر قطيع من قطعان المها العربى الموجودة داخل حدود المحمية مما أعطى نتائج عن نسب الذكور إلى الإناث والتى كانت 2:3 (ذكرين لكل ثلاث إناث)، وبمقارنة الحالة الصحية للقطيع لوحظ أنه (3) على مقياس جامعة كاليفورنيا والذى تم وضعه عام 2003. (المقياس من 0 إلى 5) تلخيصاً لما سبق: بربط جميع النتائج التى تم الحصول عليها أعطى ذلك لمحة سريعة ملخصة عن توزيع وتنوع الحياة البرية والتى يمكن أن تساعد مستقبلاً صناع القرار عند إجراء أى بحوث لمقارنة الدراسات ببعضها البعض. متوقع أن تعطى الدراسات المتتالية لتلك المنطقة رؤية أوضح وأشمل لمتخذى القرار بالمحمية عن حالة المها العربى والقط البرى وتوزيعاتهم الجغرافية وكذلك عن طبيعة تحركاتهم وبيئاتهم بالإضافة إلى إختياراتهم الغذائية وكذلك العلاقات التفاعلية بين النوع الواحد وبينه وبين الانواع الاخرى المتواجدة بنفس البيئة مما يساعد إدارة المحمية لتحديد المخاطر الموجودة أو المحتملة وبالتالى يتبع ذلك تحسين جودة إدارة محمية دبى الصحراوية.
Conference Paper
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