New nature reserves in Abu Dhabi


This is a greater flamingo video from France.

From Wildlife Extra:

Abu Dhabi opens new wetland reserve and national park

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) has recently opened two new nature reserves, with a third to follow.

Through the Eco-reserve Programme, the community will be able to explore Abu Dhabi’s natural heritage at three ecosystems that are immensely important for local biodiversity: Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Mangrove National Park, and Qasr Al Sarab Protected Area.

“As city life increasingly insulates us from our natural world, we need to seek out experiences to reconnect with it,” said HE Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD.

“The Eco-Reserve Programme offers residents of Abu Dhabi nearby opportunities to re-establish their relationship with nature.

“We want visitors to experience the flight of migrating flamingos, see the mangrove forests, and set foot on the same land as the Arabian oryx.”

The openings are timed so that the public will be able to welcome home more than 4,000 migrating greater flamingos to Al Wathba Wetland Reserve after their summer in Kazakhstan. They first successfully bred on the wetlands in 1998.

It was during the flamingos’ absence, that EAD developed public walking trails, wildlife viewing areas, and visitor infrastructure.

“The landscape around Al Wathba has changed considerably over the past decade and we are making sure that the necessary resources are allocated to the reserve to ensure its proper protection,” said Dr Al Dhaheri, executive director at the agency’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity sector.

“Protecting such an area is crucial in the preservation of Abu Dhabi’s biodiversity.”

Al Wathba is also home to 237 species of invertebrates, 11 of mammals, 10 of reptiles and more than 250 species of birds.

Visitors to the reserve, located 45km from central Abu Dhabi, will be able to enjoy activities such as bird watching, hiking and educational tours, and learn more about EAD’s Flamingo Monitoring Programme, which enlists flying drones and satellite technology to study Abu Dhabi’s flamingo population, track their numbers, migration and breeding patterns and foraging habits.

The second eco-reserve, the Mangrove National Park, is located on the city’s east coast and is primarily accessible by kayak trips through tour operators.

It encompasses 19 sq km of mangrove forest which provides a rich habitat for various marine and bird species.

In addition to providing kayak landing zones, designated walkways and waterways, and educational experiences, EAD will carefully monitor activities within the park to ensure the safety of both wildlife and visitors.

Qasr Al Sarab Protected Area, EAD’s third eco-reserve, is home to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme, which is helping the oryx recover from the brink of extinction.

Visitors to the reserve will learn about EAD’s programmes to protect Abu Dhabi’s indigenous species, including the oryx, gazelle, reptiles and plants.

The area will open to the public at a later date.

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD said: “EAD manages several protected areas on land, sea, and air that cover more than 13 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s total area.

“While EAD maintains many protected areas; our three new eco-reserves are being opened to promote greater appreciation for our natural heritage.”

Abu Dhabi’s sea turtle nesting sites


This video is about hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean.

From Wildlife Extra:

Abu Dhabi’s islands could gain global recognition as important marine turtle nesting sites

April 2014: Abu Dhabi’s Bu Tinah and Zirku Islands could soon become recognised around the world as important marine turtle nesting sites. The country’s Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has submitted a proposal to the Indian Ocean and South East Asia (IOSEA) MoU Secretariat to include the two islands in their network.

The critically endangered Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the endangered Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) can be found in Abu Dhabi’s waters and nest on at least 17 offshore islands from mid-March to mid-June. The EAD’s aerial and field survey findings indicate that about 5,750 sea turtles inhabit Abu Dhabi’s waters during the winter season and 6,900 during the summer season.

“Our marine environment is a treasured part of our heritage, our past, our present and our future. Furthermore, marine turtles and their habitats are key indicators of the health of our environment and so this is why, at EAD, we have been closely studying, monitoring and protecting them since 1999,” said Thabit Zahran Al Abdessalaam, EAD’s Senior Advisor on Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity.

“By having Bu Tinah and Zirku Islands included in the IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network, this will help ensure their long-term conservation. It will also yield a range of socio-economic benefits for the local community in the Western Region, as conservation also means cleaner coastal waters, protecting the habitat used as nursery grounds for seafood species that support commercial and subsistence fisheries, and the overall protection of mangrove and reef habitat to reduce threats from coastal hazards.”

The two islands will be evaluated by the Secretariat, which is part of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, who will take into consideration different factors including their ecological and biological significance, their governance as well as their regional and global representation.

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Torture in United Arab Emirates


This video is called CIA is destroying evidence of their torture tape recordings.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Brother of Dubai police torture victim calls for his release

Tuesday 15th April 2014

Hasnain Ali beaten and threatened with rape after arrest for ‘trumped-up’ drugs charges

The brother of a British man tortured at gunpoint and threatened with rape by Dubai police spoke out for the first time yesterday about the case.

Hasnain Ali, a former bodyguard to members of the Abu Dhabi royal family, will be sentenced today on allegedly trumped-up charges of possessing and selling drugs.

He was on holiday in Dubai in May 2013 when he was arrested, beaten and threatened with Tasers, firearms and rape by police.

Following the ordeal he was made to sign a “confession” in Arabic, which he did not understand, relating to the charges.

This “confession” is being used against him at trial.

“There has been no proper investigation into his torture and we have felt that the authorities have shown more interest in saving face than ensuring that any kind of justice is done,” his brother Jed said.

Legal charity Reprieve is fighting for Hasnain to be acquitted and returned home to Britain to his family.

Breaking news from Reprieve:

A British man arrested and tortured by Dubai police has today been acquitted.

Hasnain Ali (32), from London, was on holiday in Dubai in May 2013 when he was arrested and held for three days without access to a lawyer or his family. While detained he was beaten and threatened with tasers, firearms, and the prospect of sexual assault. Following his torture he was forced to sign a ‘confession’ in Arabic, a language he doesn’t understand, and charged with drugs offences for which he could have been given a death sentence.

See also here.

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Good flamingo news from Abu Dhabi


After the horrible news from the United Arab Emirates about jailing raped women, oppressing oppositionists, etc., now some good news.

This video says about itself:

Jul 10, 2011

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi captures and tracks its 15th Flamingo as part of ongoing conservation efforts.

From Wildlife Extra:

Greater flamingos have best year for breeding yet in Abu Dhabi

Flamingos breeding at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

July 2013. The Greater flamingo has successfully bred once again at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi. Around 200 chicks were born in the last six weeks – the highest number recorded since the species first returned to the Reserve to breed back in 2011 and experts say it is an indication of improved conditions for birds to breed, according to The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).

The first chicks hatched on June 1, 2013 and by July 16, a total of 201 chicks had been observed. These numbers are significantly higher than the 39 chicks born during the last breeding season in 2012-2013. Today, around 2,000 Greater flamingos can be spotted residing in Al Wathba, with a high percentage of these being adult breeding birds.

“The breeding is a result of sustained efforts to improve habitat conditions and management in the Reserve. This record further enhances Al Wathba’s status as a key bird site,” said Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.

“The landscape around Al Wathba has changed considerably over the past decade and we are making sure that the necessary resources are allocated to the Reserve to ensure its proper protection. Protecting such an area is crucial in the preservation of Abu Dhabi’s biodiversity,” she added.

Flamingos successfully bred for the first time in 1998 at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, and following this successful breeding, the reserve, which lies around 45 minutes’ drive from Abu Dhabi city, was established as a Protected Area by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Reserve also provides a safe refuge for many species of reptiles, small mammals and insects.

EAD undertakes routing monitoring on key elements of the Reserve’s wildlife and runs a successful flamingo tracking programme. By monitoring and tracking this species, EAD was able to acquire valuable data about trends, the number of flamingos which visit the Emirate’s shores as well as the route they travel. EAD also regularly monitors the water quality and Artemia (or brine shrimp) to help ensure a suitable environment for the flamingos to breed throughout the year.

RAMSAR site

In April 2013, the Reserve was recognised internationally and declared as a Ramsar site, the first in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It was recognised for its contribution to the conservation of biological diversity and cemented EAD’s efforts to preserve the UAE’s natural heritage.

The Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is a species with a broad distribution range from the western Mediterranean Basin to Sri Lanka in the north, to South Africa in the south. It is the most common visitor to the UAE and can be observed all year round in lagoons, fresh and salt waters of artificial wetlands, even close to human settlements or activities, such as highways, suburbs, industrial areas, salt pans, sewage ponds.

Status and diurnal behavior of the Greater Flamingo in Algerian eastern high plains: here.

One of the largest colonies of flamingos in Europe is measured and tagged to monitor the evolution of the species at the lagoon in the Fuente de Piedra natural reserve, near Malaga, southern Spain; photos here.

Diversity and distribution of avian lice on Greater Flamingo chicks in Algeria: here.