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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 2020)

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Abstract and Figures

Abstract The successful collaboration between Biosphere Expeditions and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR), initiated in 2012, continues with citizen scientists collecting data for the ninth successive expedition from 18 to 25 January 2020. The 2020 expedition’s quadrant surveys recorded the following species from 256 random observations, 16 feed spot counts and 62 circular observations: 792 Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx, 280 Arabian gazelle Gazella arabica, 95 sand gazelle Gazella marica, 18 Arabian great grey shrikes Lanius excubitor aucheri, 12 lappet-faced vultures Torgos tracheliotos, 9 MacQueen’s bustards Chlamydotis macqueenii, 7 Arabian hares Lepus capensis, 7 greater hoopoe larks Alaemon alaudipes and 1 pharaoh eagle owl Bubo ascalaphus. As the population size of ungulates in the fenced DDCR is pretty much known, the expedition concentrated its research work on elucidating animal distribution. Arabian oryx were distributed more in the west, central and south of DDCR, mainly around feed points, where forage is easily found. Arabian gazelles were concentrated in the central and central-south parts of the DDCR, mainly around irrigated areas, which provide more forage for the species. Of this species only 24 individuals were counted on the feed spots. Sand gazelles were mainly observed in sand dunes, as well as around the irrigated areas, where there is more forage to be found. Feed points seemed to be of little interest to the species in 2020, with only one individual recorded. The expedition’s Arabian red fox survey found 68 dens, of which 45 had previously been classified as active or inactive during the 2019 expedition, with an additional 23 newly identified dens. The 2020 surveys showed a decrease in the number of surveyed or identified active and inactive dens compared to 2019, but this may be due to the difficulty of this task for citizen scientists (at least 20 additional active dens were discovered after the 2020 expedition between February and March 2020). Red foxes were also recorded on four camera traps during the 2020 expedition. Due to the favourable vegetation conditions after the rains, the red fox prey base is likely to have improved in the reserve. All these are positive indicators for the status of the fox population inside the DDCR, even though the den surveys might suggest otherwise. Live traps were set for 36 trap nights and only one feral cat was captured in the north, near Nazwa Mountain. No native meso-carnivore species were captured. Compared to previous years, we increased the number of traps from three to nine live traps. High rainfall and therefore higher prey base availability, which means that predators were less likely to be attracted to the baited traps, likely contributed to this low capture success rate. Small mammal trapping comprised 239 trapping nights over six grids and resulted in a total of 31 capture-recaptures: 28 Cheeseman’s gerbils Gerbillus cheesmani (20 males, 8 females) and 3 Baluchistan gerbils Gerbillus nanus (2 males, 1 female). Total trapping success rate was 13%. Small mammals were captured in all six grids. Of the 16 camera traps set by the expedition, 10 were set close to artificial water sources, and 6 were set on natural sites. Two camera traps malfunctioned, one on each site type. A total of 80 camera trapping days captured 6,609 images, 6,119 with recognisable subjects, of which 5,546 were of native fauna, as well as 499 of humans or vehicles. Arabian oryx was the most abundant and widespread species with 13,244 recorded capture events (total number of oryx appearing in all the photos) from 11 camera traps. Among the target mammal species within the DDCR, the rare Arabian wildcat was recorded and confirmed for a second year in a row from the same location by camera trap. Arabian red fox was also recorded by four camera traps. Rare species records include Arabian hare and MacQueen’s bustard. Sand fox, lappet-faced vulture and pharaoh eagle-owl were not recorded by camera trap in 2020. Over the years the relatively high numbers of ungulates within the DDCR, especially the Arabian oryx, continue to be a challenge in terms of the need to balance animal welfare with the health of the desert ecosystem. Supplying supplementary feed for the Arabian oryx herd addresses both of these aspects by making additional food available to individuals while limiting the impact of overgrazing on the ecosystem. However, supplementary feeding also contributes to the continued growth of the gazelle populations, which are not sustainable because resources, natural and supplied, are limited. Therefore, in order to reduce the number of ungulates in the reserve, management has succeeded in gaining approval, and have started construction, of ungulate holding enclosures outside the reserve perimeter. Surplus animals will then be made available for translocation to other reserves within the natural home range of the species. A reduction in the ungulate population within the DDCR will hopefully lead to better vegetation and a distribution more dependent on habitat type and quality, rather than supplementary feed and enhanced (irrigated) habitats. Predator re-introduction has not been approved at this time by the authorities, but is still under consideration. الملخص يستمر التعاون الناجح بين محمية دبي الصحراوية وبرنامج بعثات المحيط الحيوي والتي بدأت منذ العام 2012م بمشاركة المتطوعين الذين يجمعون البيانات للرحلة التاسعة على التوالي من 18 إلى 25 يناير 2020م. خلال مسوحات البعثة الاستكشافية لعام 2020م في جميع أقسام المحمية وبإستخدام طرق حصر مختلفة من خلال 256 ملاحظة عشوائية ، و 16 تعدادًا حول نقاط توزيع العلف و 62 تسجيل لإنواع من خلال التمثيل الدائري سجلت الأنواع التالية: 792 مها عربي ، 280 غزال عربي ، 95 غزال رملي ، 18 صرد جنوبي، 12 نسر اذن، 9 حبارى شرقية ، و 7 أرانب عربية ، وسبعة طيور المكاء ، وبومة صحراوية. نظرًا للزيادة المضطردة المعروفة في أعداد قطعان المها والغزال في محمية دبي الصحراوية المسورة، فقد ركزت البعثة أعمالها البحثية على توضيح توزيعات تلك الأنواع. تم ملاحظة زيادة أعداد توزيع المها العربي بشكل أكبر في الغرب والوسط والجنوب من محمية دبي الصحراوية وبشكل رئيسي حول نقاط إمداد العلف حيث يسهل العثور على الغذاء. تركزت أعداد الغزال العربي في الأجزاء الوسطى والجنوب الوسطي من المحمية وبشكل رئيسي حول المناطق المروية من المزارع القديمة والتي بها وفرة في الغطاء النباتي و تم إحصاء 24 فردًا فقط في أماكن توزيع العلف. تم تسجيل ومشاهدة غزلان الريم بشكل رئيسي في الكثبان الرملية وكذلك حول المناطق المروية من المزارع القديمة حيث يوجد وفرة في الغطاء النباتي ولم تكن نقاط التغذية ذات أهمية كبيرة لغزال الريم في عام 2020م حيث تم تسجيل فقط فرد واحد من غزال الريم حول نقاط إمداد العلف. أظهرت استطلاعات تسجيل أوكار الثعلب الأحمر العربي للبعثة انخفاضًا في عدد الأوكار النشطة وغير النشطة التي تم مسحها أو تحديدها مقارنة بعام 2019م، وقد يكون هذا الإنخفاض بسبب صعوبة هذه المهمة للمتطوعين حيث أنه قد تم اكتشاف عدد عشرين من الأوكار النشطة الإضافية على الأقل بعد الإنتهاء من البعثة بين شهري فبراير ومارس 2020م. تم تسجيل الثعالب الحمراء أيضًا من خلال أربعة مصائد للكاميرات خلال رحلة 2020م. نظرًا لظروف الغطاء النباتي المواتية بعد هطول الأمطار، فمن المحتمل أن تكون أعداد الثعلب الأحمر قد تحسنت في المحمية. كل هذه مؤشرات إيجابية لحالة تعداد الثعالب داخل محمية دبي الصحراوية على الرغم من الاستطلاعات قد تشير إلى خلاف ذلك. تم وضع العديد من المصائد الحية لمدة 36 ليلة وكان نتيجة لذلك تسجيل عدد قط وحشي واحد في الشمال بالقرب من جبل نزوى. لم يتم تسجيل أي مفترسات متوسطة الحجم أخري مقارنة بالسنوات السابقة بالرغم من زيادة عدد المصائد من ثلاثة إلى تسعة مصائد حية. من المحتمل أن يكون هطول الأمطار الغزيرة وبالتالي توفر غذاء أكبر من الفرائس مما أدي أن الحيوانات المفترسة كانت أقل إنجذابا إلى المصائد المزودة بطعم مما ساهم في إنخفاض أعداد المفترسات. أشتمل برنامج مصائد الثدييات الصغيرة على ما مجموعه 239 ليلة في ست مواقع مختلفة وأسفرت عن ما مجموعه 31 عملية أسر: 28 جربوع تشيزماني (20 ذكورًا و 8 إناث) و 3 جربوع بلوشستان (أثنين ذكور وإنثي واحدة) كان إجمالي معدل نجاح الاصطياد 13٪ حيث تم تسجيل الثدييات الصغيرة في جميع مواقع الدراسة. من بين إجمالي ستة عشر مصائد الكاميرا وضعتها البعثة خلال 2020م تم تركيب عشرة مصائد كاميرات بالقرب من مصادر المياه الاصطناعية وستة تم وضعها في مواقع طبيعية. تعطلت عدد أثنين من مصائد الكاميرا خلال فترة الدراسة واحدة في كل موقع (مصادر المياه والمناطق الطبيعية). تم التقاط ما مجموعه 80 يومًا من أيام مصائد الكاميرات وتسجيل ما مجموعه 6609 صورة، منها 6119 صورة مع أهداف يمكن التعرف عليها ومنها 5546 من الحيوانات البرية بالإضافة إلى عدد 499 صورة لبشر أو لمركبات. كان المها العربي أكثر الأنواع وفرة وانتشارًا حيث تم تسجيل 13244 إجمالي عدد المها العربي الظاهر في جميع الصور من 13 مصيدة كاميرا. من بين أنواع الثدييات المستهدفة في DDCR تم تسجيل القط البري العربي النادر وتأكيده للعام الثاني على التوالي من نفس الموقع بواسطة مصيدة كاميرا. كما سجلت أربعة مصائد للكاميرا للثعلب الأحمر العربي. وكذلك تسجيل الأنواع النادرة الأخرى مثل الأرنب العربي وطائر الحبارى. لم يتم تسجيل الثعلب الرملي ونسر الأذون والبومة الصحراوية الفرعونية بواسطة مصيدة الكاميرا في عام 2020م. على مر السنين ، لا تزال الأعداد المرتفعة نسبيًا من ذوات الحوافر داخل محمية دبي الصحراوية وخاصة المها العربي تمثل تحديًا من حيث الحاجة إلى تحقيق التوازن بين أعداد الحيوان وصحة النظام البيئي الصحراوي. إن توفير العلف التكميلي لقطيع المها العربي يعالج كلا الجانبين من خلال توفير الطعام البديل مع الحد من تأثير الرعي الجائر على النظام البيئي. ومع ذلك، تساهم التغذية التكميلية أيضًا في النمو المستمر لأعداد الغزال والتي لا يمكن استدامتها لأن الموارد الطبيعية شحيحة. لذلك، ومن أجل تقليل عدد ذوات الحوافر في المحمية ، نجحت الإدارة في الحصول على الموافقة وبدأت في إنشاء مسيجات للاحتفاظ بالحيوانات خارج أسوار المحمية. سيتم بعد ذلك إتاحة الفرصة لنقل الحيوانات الزائدة إلى محميات أخرى ضمن النطاق المحلي الطبيعي للأنواع. من المأمول أن يؤدي انخفاض أعداد المها العربي داخل المحمية إلى تحسين جودة الغطاء النباتي والتوزيع المتجانس للحيوانات الرعوية والذي يعتمد بشكل أكبر على نوع الموائل وجودتها ، بدلاً من الأعلاف التكميلية والموائل المحسنة (المروية). لم تتم الموافقة على إعادة إدخال أي نوع من المفترسات في هذا الوقت من قبل السلطات ولكنها لا تزال قيد النظر.
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EXPEDITION REPORT
Expedition dates: 18 25 January 2020
Report published: December 2020
Ways of the desert:
conserving Arabian oryx, Gordon’s
wildcat and other species of the Dubai
Desert Conservation Reserve,
United Arab Emirates.
!
1
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
EXPEDITION REPORT
Ways of the desert:
Conserving Arabian oryx, Arabian wildcat and other
species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve,
United Arab Emirates.
Expedition dates:
18 – 25 January 2020
Report published:
December 2020
Authors:
Moayyed Sher Shah
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Gregory Simkins
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Tamer Khafaga
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Matthias Hammer (editor)
Biosphere Expeditions
2
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Abstract
The successful collaboration between Biosphere Expeditions and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
(DDCR), initiated in 2012, continues with citizen scientists collecting data for the ninth successive expedition from
18 to 25 January 2020.
The 2020 expedition’s quadrant surveys recorded the following species from 256 random observations, 16 feed
spot counts and 62 circular observations: 792 Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx, 280 Arabian gazelle Gazella arabica, 95
sand gazelle Gazella marica, 18 Arabian great grey shrikes Lanius excubitor aucheri, 12 lappet-faced vultures
Torgos tracheliotos, 9 MacQueen’s bustards Chlamydotis macqueenii, 7 Arabian hares Lepus capensis, 7 greater
hoopoe larks Alaemon alaudipes and 1 pharaoh eagle owl Bubo ascalaphus.
As the population size of ungulates in the fenced DDCR is pretty much known, the expedition concentrated its
research work on elucidating animal distribution. Arabian oryx were distributed more in the west, central and south
of DDCR, mainly around feed points, where forage is easily found. Arabian gazelles were concentrated in the
central and central-south parts of the DDCR, mainly around irrigated areas, which provide more forage for the
species. Of this species only 24 individuals were counted on the feed spots. Sand gazelles were mainly observed in
sand dunes, as well as around the irrigated areas, where there is more forage to be found. Feed points seemed to
be of little interest to the species in 2020, with only one individual recorded.
The expedition’s Arabian red fox survey found 68 dens, of which 45 had previously been classified as active or
inactive during the 2019 expedition, with an additional 23 newly identified dens. The 2020 surveys showed a
decrease in the number of surveyed or identified active and inactive dens compared to 2019, but this may be due
to the difficulty of this task for citizen scientists (at least 20 additional active dens were discovered after the 2020
expedition between February and March 2020). Red foxes were also recorded on four camera traps during the
2020 expedition. Due to the favourable vegetation conditions after the rains, the red fox prey base is likely to have
improved in the reserve. All these are positive indicators for the status of the fox population inside the DDCR, even
though the den surveys might suggest otherwise.
Live traps were set for 36 trap nights and only one feral cat was captured in the north, near Nazwa Mountain. No
native meso-carnivore species were captured. Compared to previous years, we increased the number of traps
from three to nine live traps. High rainfall and therefore higher prey base availability, which means that predators
were less likely to be attracted to the baited traps, likely contributed to this low capture success rate.
Small mammal trapping comprised 239 trapping nights over six grids and resulted in a total of 31 capture-
recaptures: 28 Cheeseman’s gerbils Gerbillus cheesmani (20 males, 8 females) and 3 Baluchistan gerbils
Gerbillus nanus (2 males, 1 female). Total trapping success rate was 13%. Small mammals were captured in all
six grids.
Of the 16 camera traps set by the expedition, 10 were set close to artificial water sources, and 6 were set on
natural sites. Two camera traps malfunctioned, one on each site type. A total of 80 camera trapping days captured
6,609 images, 6,119 with recognisable subjects, of which 5,546 were of native fauna, as well as 499 of humans or
vehicles. Arabian oryx was the most abundant and widespread species with 13,244 recorded capture events (total
number of oryx appearing in all the photos) from 11 camera traps. Among the target mammal species within the
DDCR, the rare Arabian wildcat was recorded and confirmed for a second year in a row from the same location by
camera trap. Arabian red fox was also recorded by four camera traps. Rare species records include Arabian hare
and MacQueen’s bustard. Sand fox, lappet-faced vulture and pharaoh eagle-owl were not recorded by camera
trap in 2020.
Over the years the relatively high numbers of ungulates within the DDCR, especially the Arabian oryx, continue to
be a challenge in terms of the need to balance animal welfare with the health of the desert ecosystem. Supplying
supplementary feed for the Arabian oryx herd addresses both of these aspects by making additional food available
to individuals while limiting the impact of overgrazing on the ecosystem. However, supplementary feeding also
contributes to the continued growth of the gazelle populations, which are not sustainable because resources,
natural and supplied, are limited. Therefore, in order to reduce the number of ungulates in the reserve,
management has succeeded in gaining approval, and have started construction, of ungulate holding enclosures
outside the reserve perimeter. Surplus animals will then be made available for translocation to other reserves
within the natural home range of the species. A reduction in the ungulate population within the DDCR will hopefully
lead to better vegetation and a distribution more dependent on habitat type and quality, rather than supplementary
feed and enhanced (irrigated) habitats. Predator re-introduction has not been approved at this time by the
authorities, but is still under consideration.
3
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
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4
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Contents
Abstract
2
اﻟ ﻣص اﻟر
3
Contents
4
1. Expedition review
5
5
5
6
7
7
8
8
2. Desert species surveys
9
9
9
9
11
13
26
28
33
36
43
45
Appendix I: Expedition reports, publications, diary & further info
46
5
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
1. Expedition review
M. Hammer
Biosphere Expeditions
1.1. Background
Biosphere Expeditions runs wildlife conservation 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
sense of purpose. More information about Biosphere Expeditions and its research
expeditions can be found at www.biosphere-expeditions.org.
The aim of the expedition was to survey the distribution of Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx,
sand gazelle Gazella marica and Arabian gazelle Gazella gazella, as well as to survey
dens of Arabian red fox Vulpes vulpes arabica, monitor the small mammal population and
to record cryptic and rare species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Target
species in addition to the ones mentioned were Arabian wildcat Felis lybica lybica, sand
fox Vulpes rueppellii, MacQueen’s bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii, lappet-faced vulture
Torgos tracheliotos, pharaoh eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus; and new target species from
this expedition onwards are the greater hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes and the Arabian
great grey shrike Lanius excubitor aucheri. Methods to encounter species were (a) circular
observations, (b) feed point surveys and (c) random encounters.
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 reintroduction programme for Arabian oryx and the two indigenous
gazelle species (sand and Arabian 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
the 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 park. The
proposal was accepted and sanctioned almost immediately, and work began on protecting
the area that would be known as the DDCR.
Today the DDCR is 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 reserve, which provides
nesting sites for the pharaoh eagle-owl and two groves of rare Ghaf trees (Prosopis
cineraria). There are also some former farms with tree plantations within the DDCR as a
legacy of the time before it became a reserve. The Al Maha Reserve (27 km²) was the
core area for the reintroduction of the Arabian oryx, mountain gazelle and sand gazelle.
6
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Currently the DDCR contains approximately 850 Arabian oryx from the 100 that were
originally reintroduced in 1999. Both the Arabian oryx and the gazelle species have
expanded within the DDCR naturally as the amount of human activity has decreased and
been controlled. Mountain and sand gazelles can now be seen throughout the DDCR.
Figure 1.2a. Flag and location of United Arab
Emirates and study site.
An overview of Biosphere Expeditions’
research sites, assembly points, base camp
and office locations is at Google Maps.
1.3. Dates & team
The annual survey ran over a week in January 2020 with a team of national and
international citizen scientists, professional scientists and an expedition leader. Group
dates were as shown in the team list below.
Figure 1.3a. The 2020 expedition team.
7
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
The expedition team was recruited by Biosphere Expeditions and consisted of a mixture of
ages, nationalities and backgrounds. They were (in alphabetical order and with country of
residence):
18 25 January 2020: Shamsa Alfalasi (UAE), Wing Kee Chu (Canada), Ellen Craig
(USA), Peter Goodman (UK), Robin Johnson (Romania), Petra Loebel (Germany), Lorna
Mikhelson (UK), Anette Prelle (Germany), Yvonne Reinert (Germany), Peter Thoem
(Canada), Jens Thomas (Germany), Madeleine van Lieshout (Netherlands), Toby Whaley
(Germany), Albert Wierenga (Canada), Ellen Williams (USA).
A medical umbrella, safety and evacuation procedures were in place, but did not have to
be invoked as there were no incidences.
Moayyed Sher Shah, the expedition scientist, holds a zoology degree from Islamia
University Bahawalpur, Pakistan. After years of working as a zoologist and conservationist
in Saudi Arabia, he joined the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve as a conservation
officer in 2018. His main role is to plan, control, develop and regularly monitor the
conservation practices and environmental work within the DDCR, ensuring the restoration
and well-being of the flora and fauna. He was supported by Greg Simkins, conservation
manager for the DDCR, and Tamer Khafaga, DDCR conservation research manager.
The expedition leader was Amadeus DeKastle, who has been living and working in
Kyrgyzstan since 2009. Born in Germany and with a US passport, he holds a Master’s
degree in entomology from the University of Nebraska. He currently works with the NGO
Plateau Perspectives in environmental conservation with a number of citizen science
research projects. He is also a part-time lecturer at the American University of Central Asia
in the Environmental Management Department. In 2014, he found out about Biosphere
Expeditions’ work in Kyrgyzstan and signed up for a placement. After two years of
volunteering with Biosphere Expeditions, he decided to jump in with both feet and joined
the team in 2016.
1.4. Partners
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
desert. Other partners include the National Avian Research Centre.
1.5. Acknowledgements
This study was conducted by Biosphere Expeditions, which runs wildlife conservation
expeditions all over the globe. 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) were 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. Thank you also to anonymous
reviewers for helpful comments on drafts of this report.
8
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
1.6. Expedition budget
Each team member paid towards expedition costs a contribution of € 1,480 per person for
the 8-day slot. The contribution covered accommodation and meals, supervision and
induction, special research 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., or visa and other travel expenses to and from the
assembly point (e.g. international flights). Details on how this contribution was spent are
given below.
Income
Expedition contributions
20,100
Expenditure
Staff
includes local and Biosphere Expeditions staff salaries and travel expenses
2,879
Research
includes research materials & gear etc. purchased internationally & locally
2,505
Transport
includes hire cars, fuel, taxis in the UAE
1,613
Expedition base
includes all food & services
1,413
Administration
includes miscellaneous fees & sundries
687
Team recruitment Arabia
as estimated % of annual PR costs for Biosphere Expeditions
6,668
Income Expenditure
4,435
Total percentage spent directly on project
78%
1.7. Further information & enquiries
More background 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.
Enquires should be addressed to Biosphere Expeditions at the address given on the
website.
9
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
2. Desert species surveys
2.1. Introduction and background
The United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular, are well known for their 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
diversity 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 that
the largest piece of land given to any single project in Dubai was for the establishment of
the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR), at 225 km² or 4.7% of Dubai’s total land
area.
Previous work from 2012 to 2018 and background to the species under investigation are
covered in Bell & Hammer (2015) and Simkins & Hammer (2018, 2019), as well as annual
expedition reports from 2012 onwards.
2.2. Survey aims
The 2020 expedition conducted five monitoring surveys:
1. Species encounter surveys in quadrants
to understand the distribution of the three ungulate species and other target species
in DDCR.
2. Live trapping of medium-sized animals
to elucidate the current population status of Arabian wildcat and both fox species in
the DDCR and to collect morphological data from captured individuals.
3. Arabian red fox den surveys
to monitor population changes of the DDCR’s largest predator species through their
den use.
4. Small mammal trapping
to elucidate the population status of rodent species in different habitats over time in
the DDCR.
5. Camera trapping
to record nocturnal and cryptic species.
2.3 Survey design and training of citizen scientists
Training for each survey was given separately and immediately before starting the survey,
and conducted during the first three days of the expedition to aid intake and retention of
information. Presentations about identification of ungulate and other target species were
part of the training sessions on the first day. Surveys were conducted in four zones,
namely North, Central, South and Perimeter Zones (Figure 2.3a). Each zone comprised
fifteen 2 x 2 km quadrants, with only the Perimeter Zone having 17 partial quadrants.
These 62 quadrants together represent approximately 214 km², or 95%, of the 225 km² of
the DDCR and included all key habitats of vegetated dunes, sand dunes and gravel plains.
In addition to these surveys, participants were tasked to record any animal species
observed while in the field.
10
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Figure 2.3a. The DDCR and its survey zones (North = green, Central = red, South = yellow).
The Perimeter Zone comprises all other zones within the DDCR.
11
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
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2.4. Species encountered overall
Table 2.4a shows all species encountered during the 2020 expedition. Encounter methods
include sightings, live and camera trapping as indicated.
Table 2.4a. Species encountered during the expedition. Starred* species denotes expedition target species.
Common name
Scientific name
Encounter method
Sighting
Live
trap
Camera
trap
Birds
Grey francolin
Francolinus pondicenanus
X
X
Egyptian goose
Alopochen aegyptiaca
X
Little grebe
Tachybaptus ruficollis
X
Lappet-faced vulture
Torgos tracheliotos*
X
Pallid harrier
Circus macrourus
X
Shikra
Accipiter badius
X
Long-legged buzzard
Buteo rufinus*
X
Common Kestrel
Falco tinnunculus
X
Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus
X
MacQueen’s bustard
Chlamydotis macqueenii*
X
X
Common moorhen
Gallinula chloropus
X
Red-wattled lapwing
Vanellus indicus
X
X
Plover sp.
X
Green sandpiper
Tringa ochropus
X
X
Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse
Pterocles exustus
X
Feral pigeon
Columba livia
X
X
Eurasian collared dove
Streptopelia decaocto
X
X
Laughing dove
Spilopelia senegalensis
X
X
Rose-ringed parakeet
Psittacula krameri
X
Pharaoh eagle-owl
Bubo ascalaphus
X
Eurasian hoopoe
Upupa epops
X
Blue-cheeked bee-eater
Merops persicus
X
Arabian great grey shrike
Lanius excubitor aucheri*
X
X
Arabian babbler
Turdoides squamiceps
X
Brown-necked raven
Corvus ruficollis
X
White-eared bulbul
Pycnonotus leucogenys
X
Greater hoopoe-lark
Alaemon alaudipes*
X
Crested lark
Galerida cristata
X
Sand martin
Riparia riparia
X
Asian desert warbler
Sylvia nana
X
Warbler sp.
X
Common mynah
Acridotheres tristis
X
Eastern black redstart
Phoenicurus ochruros
X
Desert wheatear
Oenanthe deserti
X
House sparrow
Passer domesticus
X
White wagtail
Motacilla alba
X
12
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Table 2.4. (continued). Species encountered during the expedition. Starred* species denotes expedition target species.
Common name
Scientific name
Encounter method
Sighting
Live
trap
Camera
trap
Arthropods
Wolf spider
Lycosidae sp.
X
Zig-zag orb spider
Argiope sp.
X
Arabian fat-tailed scorpion
Androctonus crassicauda
X
Dimorphic cockroach
Blatta lateralis
X
Desert locust
Schistocerca gregaria
X
Harlequin ground bug
Lygaeus equestris
X
Silverfish
Lepisma saccharinum
X
Desert runner (ant)
Cataglyphis niger
X
Giant ant
Camponotus xerxes
X
Arabian darkling beetle
Pimelia arabica
X
Urchin beetle
Priionotheca cornata
X
Highwayman (robberfly)
Apociea femoaralis
X
Painted lady
Vanessa cardui
X
Mammals
Arabian oryx
Oryx leucoryx*
X
X
Arabian gazelle
Gazella arabica*
X
X
Sand gazelle
Gazella marica*
X
X
Arabian wildcat
Felis lybica lybica
X
Arabian red fox
Vulpes vulpes arabica*
X
X
Feral cat
Felis catus
X
X
Arabian hare
Lepus capensis
X
X
Cheeseman’s gerbil
Gerbillus cheesmani
X
Baluchistan gerbil
Gerbillus nanus
X
Reptiles
Arabian toad-headed agama
Phrynocephalus arabicus
X
White spotted lizard
Acanthodactylus schmidti
X
Hadramaut sand lizard
Mesalina adramitana
X
Fringe-toed sand lizard
Acanthodactylus gongrorhynchatus
X
Least semaphore gecko
Pristurus minimus
X
Dune sand gecko
Stenodactylus doriae
X
Sandfish
Scincus scincus
X
Schokari sand racer
Psammophis schokari
X
13
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
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2.5. Species encounter surveys in quadrants
2.5.1 Methods of species encounter surveys in quadrants
This method records species encountered during (a) circular observations, (b) feed point
surveys and (c) random encounters.
In a nutshell, weekly feed point counts are made on the main tracks or roads in the reserve
by DDCR staff while providing animal feed in the morning, so this will only count animals
along the main tracks (roads) going to the feed points, water holes and farms. In contrast,
during the expedition’s circular observations, citizen scientists walked to the centre of each
quadrant to observe and record the animals there, which provides a clearer picture of
animal distribution. This, combined with the counts made by DDCR staff and also those by
the expedition at feed points, yields a good overall picture of animal distribution and
numbers in the reserve.
Figure 2.5.1a. A survey team conducting a circular observation.
For the circular observation, a team of three to four citizen scientists selected one
observation point, which provided a good vantage point, within 300 m of the centre of the
quadrant, which was marked on a GPS. From this vantage point, they recorded all species
and their individuals seen by eye or through binoculars within 30 minutes and 360º (see
Figure 2.5.1a.). The survey was conducted between 08:30 and 15:00 over two days,
covering all 62 quadrants (214 km²), 30 on 19 January and 32 on 20 January 2020.
Feed spot counts were carried out for ungulate and other target species within each
quadrant by counting animals at feed spots (Figure 2.5.1b) for 15 minutes by three to four
observers positioned 20-50 metres from the feed spot.
14
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and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Figure 2.5.1b. A feed point count.
Random encounters were those made during the expedition when not conducting another
survey in each quadrant during the two days when circular observations were conducted in
each quadrant or whilst driving to set a camera trap or on supply runs.
Species observed during the three types of surveys were recorded in the datasheets as
follows: species name, GPS position of researcher when the species was first seen,
distance and bearing from researcher to target species, time of day when the species was
observed, and ecological information such as number of animals (group size), sex, age,
behaviour and any additional comments.
IDW (Inverse Distance Weighted Interpolation) was used to predict the value (abundance
and distribution of species sampled at each cell = quadrant) 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
and 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 counts 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.
15
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
2.5.2 Results of species encounter surveys in quadrants
From 256 random observations, 16 feed spot counts and 62 circular observations, we
observed 792 Arabian oryx, 280 Arabian gazelle, 95 sand gazelle, 18 Arabian great grey
shrikes, 12 lappet-faced vultures, 9 MacQueen’s bustards, 7 Arabian hares, 7 greater
hoopoe-larks and 1 pharaoh eagle owl.
Ungulate species survey
Figure 2.5.2a shows the 2020 results of the expedition’s ungulate distribution surveys as a
percentage of the estimated DDCR population as determined from the weekly DDCR staff
counts.
Figure 2.5.2a. Ungulates recorded by the expedition as a percentage of the estimated population.
Arabian oryx
We recorded 792 Arabian oryx, representing 96.6% of the estimated population of
approximately 820 Arabian oryx.
The majority of Arabian oryx (599) were counted at 15 of the 16 feeding spots (N6
recorded no oryx) with herd sizes varying from 2 up to 72 individuals, with an average herd
size of 40 individuals. A total of 106 Arabian oryx with known group size were recorded
during the quadrant survey circular and random observations, 34 solitary and 72 Arabian
oryx were recorded in 18 groups (Figure 2.5.2b). The Arabian oryx group size ranged
between two and 21 animals.
`NO
¨†O
PPb
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æäãÕçÓãÜß!èéêâÝÓãÕéÖ ëÕéäêìÜÒÜ!ÅéâÖã
16
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Figure 2.5.2b. Arabian oryx group size as recorded by random and circular observations.
Arabian gazelle
We counted 280 Arabian gazelles, representing 59.6% of the total estimated population of
approximately 470 Arabian gazelle as determined by the weekly DDCR staff counts
(Figure 2.5.2a). The expedition data yielded a true distribution of Arabian gazelle in the
DDCR as only 24 individuals were counted on the feed spots. All the rest were counted
during the circular and random observations. From the 45 random observations a total of
110 Arabian gazelles were recorded, 18 were solitary individuals and 92 were recorded in
27 groups for results (Figure 2.5.2c). The group size ranged between 2 and 16. Results
from circular observations were not included here as the group sizes for most of the
observations were not recorded.
Figure 2.5.2c. Arabian gazelle group size as recorded by random observations.
Sand gazelle
The count of 95 sand gazelle represented 82.6% of the total estimated population of
approximately 115 sand gazelles as determined by the weekly DDCR staff counts (Figure
O
N
¨
t
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PO
PN
Pt
PN¹¨bt†`‡PO PPíNP NN
îâçÔÜÒ!éï!áÒéâêä
ÚÒéâê!äÕÛÜ
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PP
b
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P P
N N
P P
O
N
¨
t
`
PO
PN
Pt
P`
PN¹¨bt†`‡PO PP PN P¹ P¨ Pb Pt
îâçÔÜÒ!éï!áÒéâêä
ÚÒéâê!äÕÛÜ
17
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
2.5.2a). During species encounter surveys in quadrants we recorded a total of 30 random
and circular observations of 14 solitary individuals and a total of 80 individuals in 16
groups (Figure 2.5.2d) with group size ranging between 2 and 22 animals. Due to the
favourable vegetation conditions in the DDCR, sand gazelles were mainly grazing on the
natural vegetation within the sand dunes. Only one individual was recorded around the
feed spots.
Figure 2.5.2d. Sand gazelle group size as recorded by random and circular observations.
Other target species
Table 2.5.2e shows other target species recorded during quadrant surveys. Methods used
were feed spot counts, circular and random observations.
Table 2.5.2e. Other target species recorded by feed spot, circular and random observations.
Species
Total recorded
Circular
observations
Feed
points
Random
encounters
MacQueen’s bustard
9
0
1
8
Arabian hare
7
0
0
7
Greater hoopoe-lark
7
3
0
4
Arabian great grey
shrike
18
0
0
18
18
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2.5.3. Discussion and conclusions of species encounter surveys in quadrants
Concentrating the species encounter surveys in the quadrants minimised double counting
compared to previous expeditions and therefore led to more accurate results for a better
understanding of the distribution of all three ungulates species in the DDCR.
Good rainfall in 2019 resulted in improved vegetation condition throughout the DDCR. As
such, Arabian gazelles and especially the sand gazelles were observed feeding mainly on
the natural vegetation. Also, because of good vegetation availability, 25% of the Arabian
oryx population in the DDCR were not recorded at their usual feed spots, in contrast to
drought periods when the oryx congregate around feed spots, alongside Arabian and sand
gazelles.
The time of day when observations were made at feed points skews the data, with early
hours favouring animal presence. For example, on feed spot North-6, 32 Arabian oryx
were recorded by the DDCR feed team in the morning and no animals during the same
afternoon (Table 2.5.3a). The same pattern emerges for other feed points.
Table 2.5.3a. Feed point counts by the expedition.
Date
Feed point
Quadrant
Arabian oryx
Arabian
gazelle
Sand gazelle
19-Jan-20
N1
D9
42
3
0
19-Jan-20
N2
E7
55
5
1
19-Jan-20
N3
F5
9
0
0
19-Jan-20
N4
G2
2
0
0
19-Jan-20
N5
G8
46
4
0
19-Jan-20
N6
I9
0
0
0
19-Jan-20
N7
D8
40
0
0
20-Jan-20
S1
E10
22
1
0
20-Jan-20
S2
H11
38
0
0
20-Jan-20
S3
D11
73
2
0
20-Jan-20
S4
F15
46
0
0
19-Jan-20
S5
I9
24
2
0
20-Jan-20
S6
H11
49
0
0
20-Jan-20
S7
E11
41
2
0
20-Jan-20
S8
G14
68
0
0
20-Jan-20
S9
F11
44
5
0
Total:
599
24
1
19
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Arabian oryx
Our results show that Arabian oryx were distributed more in the west, central and south of
DDCR. This is mainly due to the feed points recently moving towards the west of the
DDCR near the ungulate enclosures that are being constructed there to capture and hold
the surplus Arabian oryx from the reserve. The predicted distribution of Arabian oryx
across the DDCR is highly concentrated around the feed points (Figure 2.5.3a), where
food is easily found. Farms in DDCR were clearly not the attraction points for Arabian oryx,
except Manana farm in the south of the reserve next to the big lake due to the water
source and favourable vegetation species composition (Dipterygium glaucum and Limeum
arabicum).
Figure 2.5.3a. Arabian oryx distribution 2020. Predicted distribution calculations
are based on a combination of feed spot counts, random and circular observations data.
20
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Arabian gazelle
The main concentration of Arabian gazelle was in the central and central-south parts of the
DDCR, mainly around the irrigated areas at the old farms and tree plantations, which
provide more food for the species (Figure 2.5.3b). Only 24 Arabian gazelles were recorded
around the feed points, mainly near the east Ghaf forest, a small lake and tree plantation.
The other 254 individuals were recorded in irrigated areas and some on gravel plains.
Figure 2.5.3b. Arabian gazelle distribution 2020. Predicted distribution calculations
are based on a combination of feed point counts, random and circular observations data.
21
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Sand gazelle
It is always a challenge to count the sand gazelle in its preferred sand dunes habitat, but
through the expedition it was possible to gain a better understanding of sand gazelle
distribution. Sand gazelles were mainly observed in sand dunes, as well as around the
irrigated areas (Figure 2.5.3c), where there is more food to be found. The largest group of
22 sand gazelles was recorded at Ghadeer farm in the DDCR’s central north of DDCR
(Figure 2.5.3c). Feed points were of no interest to the species in 2020, with only one
individual recorded. The remaining 104 individuals were recorded in the irrigated areas
and dunes in the south. Successful breeding of sand gazelles as evidenced by new-born
fawns was also recorded.
Figure 2.5.3c. Sand gazelle distribution 2020. Predicted distribution calculations are
based on a combination of feed point counts, random and circular observations data.
22
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MacQueen’s bustard
A total of nine MacQueen’s bustards were recorded, mostly distributed in the central part
of the DDCR at Ghadeer farm. One individual was recorded in the central-west near the
camel farm (see Figure 2.5.3d).
Figure 2.5.3d MacQueen’s bustards distribution 2020. Predicted distribution calculations are
based on a combination of feed point counts, camera trap records, random and circular observations data.
23
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and the European Citizen Science Association.
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Arabian hare
After good rains during 2019, Arabian hares were again observed in the reserve after an
absence of three years, including seven records by the expedition. We believe their
reappearance is largely due to the now once again favourable vegetation conditions in the
DDCR. Arabian hares were mainly observed in the south and central parts of DDCR in
sand dunes with vegetation dominated by fire bush (Figure 2.5.3e).
Figure 2.5.3e. Arabian hare distribution 2020. Predicted distribution calculations are
based on a combination of camera trap records, random and circular observations data.
24
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Greater hoopoe-lark
A total of seven greater hoopoe-larks were observed during the circular and random
observations. All observations were recorded from the south of the reserve (Figure 2.5.3f),
mainly due to the team’s effort and identification skills in that area.
Figure 2.5.3f. Greater hoopoe-larks distribution 2020. Predicted distribution calculations are
based on a combination of random and circular observations.
25
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and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Arabian great grey shrike
A total of 18 Arabian great grey shrikes were observed during the circular and random
observations. Most observations were recorded in the south of the reserve, but some also
in the central north (Figure 2.5.3g) mainly due to the team’s effort and identification skills in
that area.
Figure 2.5.3g. Arabian great grey shrike distribution 2020. Predicted distribution calculations are
based on a combination of random and circular observations.
26
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
2.6. Live-trapping of medium-sized animals
2.6.1. Methods for live-trapping of medium-sized animals
Nine Tomahawk live traps were set during the expedition with the aim of capturing Arabian
wildcat, sand fox and Arabian red fox to elucidate their current population status in the
DDCR and to collect morphological data from captured individuals. At the beginning of the
expedition, three survey groups were given nine live traps to be placed within their
allocated zones (North, South and Central Zones). Selection of the live trapping location
was based on recent meso-carnivore records by DDCR staff, including animal sightings
and camera trap records, as well as active dens recorded. Each group marked the position
of the live trap on a handheld GPS. The live traps were baited with tinned sardines and left
out in the field for four nights, resulting in a total of 36 trap nights. The bait was placed at
the very back of the trap (using an extendable reacher/grabber), forcing the animal to step
onto a pressure plate, triggering the trap, to reach the bait (Figure 2.6.1). The pressure
plate was covered with sand to give the trap a more natural appearance and to ensure that
the target species would be more at ease when entering the trap.
Figure 2.6.1. Setting a live trap.
Each morning the groups checked all live traps within their allocated zone. This involved
firstly checking the traps for any captured animals and then inspecting the surroundings for
any indication of the presence of Arabian wildcat, feral cat or other meso-carnivores from
tracks around the trap, or if the trap had been disturbed or investigated by an animal.
Where necessary, traps were rebaited; all traps were also rebaited before the third
trapping night.
Trapped target species were sedated by reserve staff and then sexed, weighed, measured
and fitted with a numbered ear tag. Each individual was aged as either an adult or a sub-
adult based on the degree of canine and molar development. Specific external body
measurements taken included total length, tail length, hind foot length, ear length and
shoulder height. Once the individual had recovered from sedation it was released at the
point of capture.
27
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!
2.6.2. Results of live-trapping of medium-sized animals
Nine traps were set for four nights for a total 36 trapping nights. Only one feral cat (Figure
2.6.2) was captured in the north, near Nazwa Mountain. Although tracks of red fox were
found around two traps, no individuals were captured. Two of the traps in the south (LT-
S2) were triggered with no capture, probably due to strong winds as no fox or cat tracks
were seen.
Figure 2.6.2. Feral cat captured near Nazwa Mountain.
2.6.3. Discussion and conclusions for live-trapping of medium-sized animals
Over a total of 36 trapping nights, only one feral cat and no native meso-carnivore species
were captured. Compared to previous years, we increased the number of traps from three
to nine live traps. We believe one contributor to this low success rate to be the rains and
therefore higher prey base availability, which means predators were not attracted to the
traps. However, the trapping success rate over the last eight years has been extremely low
overall (Table 2.6.3). A larger trapping effort through increasing the number of traps will be
made during future Biosphere Expeditions surveys in an attempt to capture the target
species of Arabian wildcat, sand fox and red fox.
28
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
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!
Table 2.6.3. Results of meso-carnivore live trapping sessions between 2012 and 2020.
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Total trapping effort (trap nights)
48
48
53
60
72
20
15
27
36
Triggered with target species
0
1
1
0
0
0
2
0
0
Unsuccessful trigger
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
1
0
Triggered by non-target species
1
1
0
2
1
0
1
0
1
Meso-carnivore species
captured
Feral
cat
1
0
0
1
0
0
1
0
1
Wildcat
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Sand
fox
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
Red fox
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
2.7. Arabian red fox den surveys
2.7.1. Methods for Arabian red fox den surveys
The Arabian red fox is the largest predator within the DDCR, so it is vital 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 counting their dens. A
survey of the reserve was done by DDCR staff in 2011 to identify as many dens as
possible and then from 2016 to 2019, with the help of Biosphere Expeditions, the
previously identified dens were monitored. Any new incidental discoveries of new dens
were included; all dens were classified as either active, inactive or abandoned based on
signs of fox activity such as tracks, fresh digging, prey remains and fresh scat.
During the 2020 expedition, all active and inactive den sites were revisited and once again
classified based on signs of fox activity, with an additional classification of abandoned
when the den had filled in with sand. All abandoned dens from 2019 were not revisited. In
addition, any new dens found were recorded and classified. The density estimates of red
fox dens in the DDCR were then calculated using ArcGIS software tools based on Kernel
density estimates.
29
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and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Figure 2.7.1. Recording a den site.
2.7.2. Results of Arabian red fox den surveys
68 dens were surveyed, of which 45 had previously been classified as active or inactive
during the 2019 expedition, with an additional 23 newly identified dens (Figure 2.7.2a). Six
dens were classified as active, 30 inactive and 32 abandoned.
Apart from the 23 new dens identified in the 2020 expedition, one possible sand fox den
was also identified.
2.7.3. Discussion and conclusions for Arabian red fox den surveys
The 2020 red fox den surveys show a decrease in the number of surveyed or identified
active and inactive dens compared to 2019 (Table 2.7.3a). 69% of the dens previously
classified as active and inactive in 2019 were found abandoned by the 2020 expedition.
Only 23 new den sites (2 active and 21 inactive) were found during the 2020 expedition,
compared to 30 new den sites during the 2019 expedition (Table 2.7.3a and Figure
2.7.3a). Dens recorded as abandoned during previous years were not included in the 2020
survey. From all the previous surveys, starting from 2011 (the first survey was without
Biosphere Expeditions) and between 2016 and 2020 (annual Biosphere Expeditions
surveys), a total of 283 red fox den sites were recorded and classified.
30
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
!
Figure 2.7.2a. Classification of Arabian red fox dens survey results from the 2020 expedition.
Table 2.7.3a. Results of the Arabian red fox den surveys in 2011 and 2016-2020.
Status
2011
2016
2017
2018
2019*
2020*
Active
66
59
24
11
15
6
Inactive
95
52
40
42
29
30
Abandoned
0
57
138
167
49
32
TOTAL
161
168
202
220
93
68
Status changes
Unchanged
55
65
138
62
6
New Active
4
14
7
11
2
Inactive to Active
25
2
2
1
2
New Inactive
3
24
8
19
21
Active to Inactive
24
3
10
2
5
Active to Abandoned
12
43
17
6
8
Inactive to Abandoned
45
39
25
35
24
Not Surveyed
0
11
10
0*
0*
* Previously abandoned dens were not surveyed
31
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany , Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal Union for the Co nserva tion of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.7.3a. Results of the Arabian red fox den surveys in 2011 and 2016-2020.
66
59
24
11 15
6
95
52
40 42
29 30
0
57
138
167
49
32
161
168
202
220
93
68
0
50
100
150
200
250
2011 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Number of Dens
Active Dens Inactive Dens Abandoned Dens Total
32
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The well-vegetated sites recorded the highest den densities for both active and inactive
dens. These sites were dominated by tall shrubs, in particular Leptadenia pyrotechnica,
which meet the habitat requirements of providing a stable soil substrate supported by the
shrub’s root system. Also, a few dens were recorded in rocky areas on Nazwa Mountain.
With the Kernel density analysis, the concentration of active and inactive dens can be
seen mostly in the south and central parts of the DDCR (Figure 2.7.3b). Also, a few active
dens were recorded in the north of the DDCR, but as more abandoned dens were also
recorded in the north, this could be partly due to the disturbance level from the
construction work going on in the north.
Figure 2.7.3b. Arabian red fox den distribution in 2020.
33
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Comparing the results of this monitoring programme over the past years shows that most
den sites were surveyed and discovered between 2016 and 2018 (Figure 2.7.3a), with a
sharp drop in 2019 and 2020. This variability is not connected to observer numbers, as
some high discovery years actually had fewer observers. Instead we believe that den
discovery and correct classification is a difficult task for citizen scientists. Also, one of the
main reason for changing the status of dens from active and inactive to abandoned this
year may well have been the heavy rains recorded during early January 2020, which may
have caused many dens to collapse. Red foxes occupying those dens may have made
new dens at new sites, undiscovered by the expedition.
There were several sightings recorded by DDCR staff of red foxes between December
2019 and January 2020. At least 20 active dens were discovered after the 2020 expedition
between February and March 2020. Also, red foxes were recorded on four camera traps
during the 2020 expedition. Finally, due to the favourable vegetation conditions after the
rains, the red fox prey base is likely to have improved in the reserve. All these are positive
indicators for the status of the fox population inside the DDCR, even though the den
surveys might suggest otherwise.
2.8. Small mammals trapping
2.8.1. Methods for small mammals trapping
The number of ungulates in the DDCR has increased significantly over the last five years,
which has caused grazing pressure on the vegetation growth. As small mammals are
known to be good indicators of ecosystem health, a trapping survey was conducted to
elucidate the population status of small mammals at the trapping sites.
Figure 2.8.1a. Setting up a small mammal trap in a sandy area.
34
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Six rodents trapping sites (grids) were selected in three different habitat types within the
DDCR: Three sites were selected on sand dunes (sandy areas), two on gravel plains and
one on the rocky outcrop near Nazwa in the north of the reserve. Both trapping sites on
gravel plains (RS1 & RS2) and one trapping site in a sandy area (RS6) were moved from
previous locations as no small mammals were captured on these locations during the 2019
expedition. All trapping sites were between 100 m and 300 m from the main driving tracks
in the Reserve, to be easily accessible for setting and especially for checking in the
morning. All trapping sites (grids) were set for four nights. Each trapping grid consisted of
10 small mammal Sherman traps. Traps were set (Figure 2.8.1a) and baited with oats
before sunset and checked early the next morning. Captured animals were identified, and
pictures were taken of each captured individual for further identification. Species, sex, age
and general body condition of each captured rodent were recorded and the animal was
then released at the point of capture. Traps were closed every morning and set again
before sunset. The 2020 expedition team was also trained to collect faecal samples from
captured small mammals. These samples were collected for a collaboration project with
New York University, Abu Dhabi to study the food content and for collecting genetic
samples of small mammals in the DDCR.
Citizen scientists were asked to mark captured individuals to estimate the population size
of each rodent species captured using Mark Release Recapture (MRR) methods, but
many found it difficult to handle live animals (Figure 2.8.1b) and so marking captured small
mammals was not possible during the first two days as planned.
Figure 2.8.1b. Handling live animals.
35
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Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
2.8.2. Results of small mammal trapping
239 trapping nights over six grids resulted in a total of 31 capture-recaptures, which
included two species: 28 Cheeseman’s gerbils (20 males, 8 females) and 3 Baluchistan
gerbils Gerbillus nanus (2 males, 1 female) (Table 2.8.2a).
In addition, two non-target species were captured in the rocky area (RS-5): three house
sparrows and one white-eared bulbul.
The total trapping success rate was 12.97%. 31 traps were triggered without capture,
representing a 12.97% trapping failure rate (false trigger) (Table 2.8.2a). Some traps
triggered in RS5 and RS6 without capture were due to oryx moving the traps or bird
interference.
Small mammals were captured in all six girds. The largest number of successful captures
was recorded in RS3 grid, where eight Cheeseman’s gerbils were captured (Table 2.8.2a).
The next highest number was recorded in RS4 grid, with seven of the same species
captured. Both sites were among the sandy dune habitat (Table 2.8.2a). In gravel area
RS2, five Cheeseman’s gerbils and one Baluchistan gerbil were captured. In gravel area
RS1, two Cheeseman’s gerbils and one Baluchistan gerbil were captured. In the rocky
area RS5, one Baluchistan gerbil was captured.
Table 2.8.2a. Results of small mammal trapping.
Trapping
area
Habitat
Trap
nights
Individuals
captured-
recaptured
Success
rate %
No. trap
failure
Trap
failure rate
%
Species captured
RS1
Gravel
40
3
7.5
3
7.5
Cheeseman's gerbil
Baluchistan gerbil
RS2
Gravel
40
6
15
0
0
Cheeseman's gerbil
Baluchistan gerbil
RS3
Sand
40
8
20
3
7.5
Cheeseman's gerbil
RS4
Sand
40
7
17.5
2
5
Cheeseman's gerbil
RS5
Rocky
40
1
2.5
9
22.5
Baluchistan gerbil
House sparrow
White-eared bulbul
RS6
Sandy
39
6
15.38
14
35
Cheeseman's gerbil
36
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
2.8.3. Discussion and conclusions for small mammals trapping
Small mammals were captured in all six sampled grids. Small mammal trapping resulted in
the total capture of 31 individuals from two species; namely Cheeseman’s gerbil and
Baluchistan gerbil. No Arabian spiny mouse, Arabian jird or Sandevall’s jird were captured,
although some of these species were captured in previous studies in the DDCR (Bell &
Khafaga 2015). Jird species were recorded by random sightings in the south of the DDCR
by the expedition. Rocky areas are the preferred habitat for Arabian spiny mouse, so their
occurrence is limited to the relatively small Nazwa outcrop (RS5). Although none were
captured this year, the 2019 expedition captured three Arabian spiny mice. The capture of
the jird species in DDCR is probably limited by the size of the small mammal traps used,
and larger cage traps are needed to improve capture success (Strauss et al. 2008). The
general population status of small mammals (with a total trapping success rate of 13%)
seems to have improved compared to the previous year. This is likely to be due to the
good vegetation condition after the rain event. However, since we moved three trapping
grids this year and the sample size was small, this conclusion can be tentative only.
2.9. Camera trapping
2.9.1. Methods for camera trapping
As many species in the desert environment are both nocturnal and elusive, it is difficult to
gather reliable information on their populations. Camera traps can be used to study such
cryptic species and have the advantage of detecting with equal efficiency both nocturnal
and diurnal activities with minimal environmental disturbance.
Sixteen camera traps (three Reconyx RC60, three Reconyx Hyperfire, two Reconyx
Hyperfire-2 and eight Bushnell Trophy Cam HD) were used during the expedition and
distributed across the DDCR’s four designated zones. Predetermined locations in each of
the zones were chosen for the survey groups to set their camera traps.
Figure 2.9.1. Setting up a camera trap.
37
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Camera traps were not baited (as this tends to attract red foxes, probably resulting in
Arabian wildcats avoiding the sites) and left out in the field for five days, resulting in 80 trap
days in total. All camera traps were set to capture three pictures with each trigger at a 10
second interval so that there are more chances of recording or capturing the cryptic
species. During the 2018 and 2019 expeditions, all 17 camera traps were set close to
water sources. However, as part of an ongoing long-term study for the DDCR, during the
summer of 2019 camera traps were set on six other natural sites and these sites are now
included in the Biosphere Expeditions survey. Therefore, ten camera traps were set close
to water sources, and six were set on other sites.
2.9.2. Results of camera trapping
Eighty camera trapping days captured 6,609 images, 6,119 with recognisable subjects of
which 5,546 were of native fauna, as well as 499 of humans or vehicles (Figure 2.9.2a).
Twelve wildlife species could be identified from the trapping effort. Two of the 16 traps set,
camera trap 5 (natural site) and camera trap 20 (water source), malfunctioned and images
recorded by these camera traps were disregarded.
Six mammal species were recorded (Table 2.9.2a). Arabian oryx was the most abundant
and widespread species with 4,831 pictures (images) from 11 camera traps. 306 Arabian
gazelles images were recorded on eight traps, 133 sand gazelles images on six traps, 22
Arabian red fox images on four traps (Figure 2.9.2c) and also 12 images of the same
Arabian wildcat (single individual) by camera trap 11 (Figure 2.9.2d). Arabian hare was
recorded by camera trap 14 with 21 images captured and at least two individuals recorded
on one image (Figure 2.9.2e).
Only six bird species were recorded this year. (Table 2.9.2a). Two images of a single
MacQueen’s bustard were recorded (Figure 2.9.2b), as well as large numbers of Eurasian
collared doves (607) at five different camera trap locations, 94% of them by camera trap
19. Other bird species recorded and identified from the photos include an individual brown-
necked raven, grey francolin, rock doves and laughing doves (Table 2.9.2a).
38
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.9.2a. Camera trapping results as graphs.
39
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany , Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal Union for the Co nserva tion of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Table 2.9.2a. Camera trapping results by number of animals.
Trap number
Latitude
Longitude
Trap site
d
escription
Arabian oryx
Arabian gazelle
Sand gazelle
Arabian red fox
Arabian wildcat
Euras. collared dove
MacQueen’ s bustard
Rock dove
Arabian hare
Laughing dove
Grey francolin
Brown-
necked raven
Trap 02
55.655953
24.904303
Natural (Other)
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 03
55.660494
24.869189
Water source
400
21
0
0
0
18
2
0
0
8
5
0
Trap 04
55.665463
24.900862
Water source
24
55
3
0
0
10
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 05
55.662121
24.982317
Natural (Other)
malfunction
Trap 06
55.65594
24.850245
Natural (Other)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 07
55.647524
24.766422
Water source
1617
3
6
6
0
3
0
15
0
0
0
3
Trap 08
55.662777
24.980824
Water source
716
0
0
1
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
Trap 09
55.677639
24.870299
Water source
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 11
55.656984
24.74116
Water source
1201
9
12
0
12
6
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 12
55.626555
24.819682
Natural (Other)
0
6
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 13
55.616534
24.779901
Natural (Other)
19
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 14
55.693987
24.762744
Natural (Other)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
24
0
0
0
Trap 15
55.613695
24.885371
Water source
547
15
9
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 17
55.703251
24.820728
Water source
2122
96
6
3
9
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Trap 19
55.613408
24.795528
Water source
6595
233
131
12
0
570
0
6
0
0
0
0
Trap 20
55.699843
24.841635
Water source
malfunction
Total
13244
438
167
22
21
607
2
23
24
8
5
3
40
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.9.2b. A single MacQueen’s bustard was captured at a water point by camera trap 3.
Figure 2.9.2c. Red fox captured near a water point by camera trap 5.
41
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Figure 2.9.2d. Arabian wildcat captured near water by camera trap 11.
Figure 2.9.2e. Two Arabian hares captured at other location by camera trap 14.
42
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
2.9.3. Discussion and conclusions for camera trapping
Camera traps were set for five days during the 2020 expedition and still provided a good
return of pictures relevant to the trapping effort (80 trapping days). A total of 6,609 pictures
were recorded from 14 camera traps, with 12 species identified. The majority of pictures
captured were of native fauna (83%) (Table 2.9.3a). The most frequently recorded species
was Arabian oryx with 4,831 pictures, which is 87% of the total animal pictures recorded.
306 Arabian gazelle (5.52%) and 133 sand gazelle (2.40%) were also recorded, with
remaining species results in Table 2.9.3a.
The mean of images recorded on the natural sites (other) is 22.4 images recorded per
camera trap and the mean for the images recorded on water sources is 721.56 images per
camera trap (Table 2.9.3b). This clearly shows the importance of water for many animal
species. Still, rare species such as the Arabian hare were recorded from the camera traps
on other sites.
Table 2.9.3a. Results of camera trapping 2020, the total number of animals counted in images.
Species
Images
recorded
% of Images
Total no. of
animals in
images
Group size
(min.)
Group size
(max.)
Arabian oryx
4831
87.11
13244
1
20
Arabian gazelle
306
5.52
438
1
5
Sand gazelle
133
2.40
167
1
4
Arabian red fox
22
0.40
22
1
1
Arabian wildcat
9
0.22
9
1
1
MacQueen’s bustard
2
0.04
2
1
1
Arabian hare
21
0.38
24
1
2
Grey francolin
3
0.05
5
1
2
Brown-necked raven
3
0.05
3
1
1
Laughing dove
8
0.14
8
1
1
Rock dove
14
0.25
25
1
3
Eurasian collared dove
142
2.56
616
1
19
Gazelle unidentified
3
0.05
3
1
1
Dove unidentified
46
0.83
120
1
8
Total
5546
14689
43
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Table 2.9.3b. Mean of the results of camera traps images fr om the artificial water and other sites in 2020.
Site type
Total
number of
images
Fauna
Blank
Pick-up /
set-up
Human
Not
identifiable
Other
22.4
8.4
8.4
4
1.2
0.2
Artificial
water
721.6
611.5
49.0
6.4
61.5
0.1
During the 2019 expedition, the camera trapping effort was double compared to this year
(203 trapping days), yielded a record number of pictures: 21,697, showing 29 species.
The camera trapping during the 2020 expedition did not record any of the target species
with significant importance for the reserve such as sand fox, lappet-faced vulture and
pharaoh eagle-owl. However, they were observed during the expedition. This result is
mainly due to the short period and hence effort made for camera trapping (five days only)
when compared to the previous year (13 days), as well as placing six camera traps on
other natural locations, not only at artificial water sources, to which more animals are
drawn.
Among the target mammal species within the DDCR, the rare Arabian wildcat was
recorded and confirmed for a second year in a row from the same location by camera trap.
Arabian red fox was also recorded by four camera traps. Rare species records such as
Arabian hare recorded by camera trap number 14 from a natural site was also a good
result. Continued camera trap surveys therefore continue to be an important aspect of
monitoring target species in the DDCR.
2.10. Management considerations and recommendations for further expedition work
Over the years the relatively high numbers of ungulates within the DDCR, especially the
Arabian oryx, continue to be a challenge in terms of the need to balance animal welfare
with the health of the desert ecosystem. Supplying supplementary forage for the Arabian
oryx herd addresses both of these aspects by making additional nutrition available to
individuals while limiting the impact of overgrazing on the ecosystem. However,
supplementary feeding also contributes to the continued growth of the populations, which
is not sustainable because resources, natural and supplied, are limited. Therefore, in order
to reduce the number of ungulates in the reserve, management has succeeded in gaining
approval, and has started construction of, ungulate holding enclosures outside the reserve
perimeter. These enclosures have been designed so that the DDCR management will be
able to separate the sexes and effectively stop population growth. These surplus animals
will then be made available for translocation to other reserves within the natural home
range of the species. A reduction in the ungulate population within the DDCR will hopefully
lead to better vegetation and a distribution more dependent on habitat type and quality,
rather than supplementary feed and enhanced (irrigated) habitats. Predator re-introduction
sought previously has not been approved at this time by the authorities, but is still under
consideration.
44
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Arabian red fox den surveys have shown a declining trend of active dens, but other
indications, from camera traps and sightings, suggest a steady population. The decline in
the number of active dens surveyed does warrant further investigation over a larger area
to gain a better understanding of the Arabian red fox population in the DDCR.
Recommendations for the 2022 expedition
The 2021 expedition, planned for January of that year, could not take place because of the
coronavirus pandemic. It is hoped the expedition can return in January 2022, when it
should continue the five survey activities described in this report, to concentrate and
improve on the following:
Feed spot counts for the ungulate species should be conducted during the early
hours of the day.
During each circular and random observation, the group structure and composition
of ungulates should be recorded for each group observed.
More efforts should be made by participants to observe and identify the greater
hoopoe-lark and Arabian great grey shrike during the circular and random
observations in DDCR.
The red fox den survey should be expanded in training and effort to discover new
dens. Intensive systematic surveys for dens should be carried out, covering all 62
quadrants in the reserve to elucidate population status.
Live trap numbers will be increased to six traps in all three zones with a total of at
least 60 trapping nights.
Morphological data should be collected for each captured rodent and captured
individuals should be marked to enable population estimation of small mammals in
each trapping grid, through mark/recapture analysis.
Camera trapping should be continued with the locations selected for the 2020
expedition, with ten camera traps at water sources and six on other natural sites to
increase the chances of recording cryptic species.
45
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
2.11. Literature cited
Bell, S & Khafaga T., (2015), Assessment of terrestrial small mammals in Dubai Emirate's
inland desert. wildlife Middle East, Vol 7, Issue 2, ISSN1990-8237.
Bell, S. and M. Hammer (2015) Ways of the desert: conserving Arabian 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.
ESRI® (Environmental Systems Resource Institute) (2012) ArcMap™ 10.1. Copyright ©
1999-2012 ESRI Inc., Redlands, California. USA.
Simkins, G. and M. Hammer (2018) Ways of the desert: conserving Arabian oryx,
Gordon’s wildcat and other species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, United
Arab Emirates. Expedition report 2017 available via www.biosphere-
expeditions.org/reports.
Simkins, G. and M. Hammer (2019) Ways of the desert: conserving Arabian oryx,
Gordon’s wildcat and other species of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, United
Arab Emirates. Expedition report 2018 available via www.biosphere-
expeditions.org/reports.
Strauss, M, Sher Shah, M., and Shobrak, M. (2008) Rodent trapping in the Saja/Umm Ar-
Rimth Protected Area of Saudi Arabia using two different trap types. Journal of Zoology in
Middle East 43, 2008: 31-39.
46
© Bios phere Expedit ions, a not-for-profit conservation organisation registered in Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, USA
Offici ally accredited m ember of th e United N ations Enviro nment P rogramme, t he Internati onal U nion f or the Cons ervation of Nature
and the European Citizen Science Association.
Appendix I: Expedition reports, publications, diary & further information
Project updates, reports and publications:
https://www.researchgate.net/project/UAE-Protecting-desert-habitats-and-species-of-the-
Dubai-Desert-Conservation-Reserve-through-citizen-science
All expedition reports, including this and previous expedition reports:
https://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/reports
Expedition diary/blog:
https://blog.biosphere-expeditions.org/category/expedition-blogs/arabia-2020/
Expedition details, background, pictures, videos, etc.
https://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/arabia
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.