Persian Gulf: wildlife threatened


This is a white-collared kingfisher video.

Associated Press reports:

Persian Gulf Wildlife Threatened

Booming development driving away Persian Gulf’s endangered wildlife

KHOR KALBA, United Arab Emirates, Jul. 3, 2006

By JIM KRANE

It’s one of the world’s rarest birds, but there it sat on a mangrove branch, motionless, eyes peeled for a fiddler crab.

The handsome white-collared kingfisher, its iridescent green back flickering in the dappled 110-degree sunshine, suddenly disappeared.

A loud splash came from the swampy thicket.

A millisecond later, the bird flashed past, on its way to a hideaway to crunch a live crab in its sharp black beak.

Although the kingfisher is a common bird, only a few dozen of its Arabian subspecies, kalbaensis, are thought to remain on the planet, since their nesting places are restricted to the hollows of knotty old mangroves.

Conservationists here worry that relentless real estate encroachment could push the kalbaensis subspecies into extinction.

Already it has only three known nesting grounds: this ancient mangrove swamp 80 miles from Dubai and two smaller ones just across the border in Oman.

All three are threatened by Florida-style luxury resorts and housing along hundreds of miles of once pristine Arabian coastline.

The kingfisher is just one of the species threatened by the building boom.

In Oman, a luxury hotel was just finished on a stretch of beach used as a nesting site for the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

Other developments have taken habitat from the rare Socotra cormorant and the dugong, or sea cow, a marine mammal akin to the manatee.

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