Did you Know?
  • Feeding on shrubs, the Spiny-tailed Lizard never drinks water and is capable of changing colour with body temperature, turning from black to white or yellow as the lizard warms up

Body Condition Scoring for the Arabian Oryx of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Adèle Guidot

ABSTRACT

Medium-sized antelope, the Arabian Oryx is an indigenous species to step and desert areas of the Arabian Peninsula. This mammal was first introduced in 1999 in an area of 27 km2 in the Al Maha hotel complex situated 60 km South-East of Dubai and then relocated throughout a larger superficial of 225 km2 end of 2003, in what has been called since then “Dubai desert conservation reserve”. Following this major change, the population started to grow, and what was at first a herd of 70 endangered Arabian oryx in 2003, is now 400, making DDCR the largest free-roaming herd of its kind in the UAE (DDCR). It was however noticed that the body condition of the Arabian oryx throughout the years deteriorated, naturally explained by a larger population and therefore a lack of food. A new feeding management strategy was then adopted, in order to improve the health of the herds, assessed and measured by the body condition scoring. A scheme for body condition scoring is adopted as an approach to provide measurable, quantitative and informative indicator of the fitness of the Arabian oryx herd in (Gilbert and Woodfine, 2003). The BCS was in that case, measured by a visual perspective of the fat cover of the animal, its back posture, the appearance of musculature and spine. The scores vary from 0 to 5; 0 being emaciated and 5 being Obese. The Body condition scoring can be used as a health or nutritional deficiencies indicator, in order to control the feeding management of the herd and therefore its longevity but also reproduction rates. A new feeding program was implemented in 2013 and has overall remained the same since then. The purpose of this study is, therefore, to assess the efficiency of the 2013 feeding program, determined by the average score of the oryx population. It will also work as an indicator to the management, if there should be any adjustment to the feeding strategies or not, in order to keep the population as healthy as possible. The correct feeding strategy would give us an ideal score of three.