UAE’s conservation efforts fruitful - GulfToday

UAE’s conservation efforts fruitful


Al Ain Zoo. File

With COVID-19 taking away all the attention, World Conservation Day, an occasion to raise awareness of the importance of protecting and conserving natural resources and habitats threatened by imbalances in the ecosystem and the depletion of natural resources, passed off quietly.

As per the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), from 1970 to 2014, 60 per cent of all animals with a backbone —fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — were wiped out by human activity.

For freshwater fauna, the decline in population over the 44 years monitored was a staggering 80 per cent. Latin America was hit hardest, seeing a nearly 90 per cent loss of wildlife over the same period, as per the WWF’s ‘Living Planet’ report.

The UAE is fortunate that its Founding Father, late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, himself was an ardent nature lover and conservationist who laid a strong foundation for environmental protection.

The country has been scoring high marks when it comes to conservation efforts and protection of environment.

The Al Ain Zoo offers a bright example.

The zoo is home to a diverse group of approximately 4,000 animals from different environments around the world. Many come from fragile habitats where numerous factors threaten their survival. The zoo is an important centre for programmes related to the propagation, conservation, and protection of multiple species.

The zoo studied biological diversity in the field of nature conservation, which is an important area for the protection of nature and for which it was established by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The zoo has presented a set of initiatives and achievements, including its study of 14 species of migratory birds, its monitoring of 100 species of wild birds, its wild plant conservation practices, and its role in developing and managing programmes to protect endangered species, such as the Arabian Sand Cat and the African Dama gazelle.

Its role in preserving nature is the main reason the zoo was established in Al Ain 52 years ago, when it began by protecting the Arabian oryx from extinction.

Its programmes soon extended to include animals from around the world, and it has made efforts to sustain and protect nature’s wealth and reduce environmental footprints through well-designed programmes addressing biological diversity, sustainable design and economy, and social and environmental aspects.

Though the UAE is situated in one of the most arid regions, it boasts alluring mangroves, wadis, salt marshes and lagoons thanks to prodigious conservation efforts.

There have been problems created by the pandemic. The pandemic and its associated lockdowns have severely disrupted critical species conservation activities and fieldwork worldwide according to a survey of more than 300 conservationists in 85 countries.

The survey, conducted by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund or MBZ Fund, found the pandemic had affected the ability of 83 per cent of conservationists to conduct critical fieldwork, while 70 per cent said planned conservation activities had been cancelled or postponed.

Based in Abu Dhabi, the MBZ Fund is a philanthropic endowment providing small grants of up to $25,000 to individual species conservation initiatives. Since 2009, the Fund has provided over $20 million to more than 2,100 projects, supporting more than 1,300 different species and subspecies.

Conserving resources by creating awareness around the world and encouraging people to protect the environment for present and future generations is surely the best way forward.

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