Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve attracts new species
Highlights success of conservation efforts

DUBAI, U.A.E., 19th April 2010: The discovery of six new species at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) consolidates its status as the regional benchmark for sustainable tourism and affirms its standing as a leading conservation haven in the Middle East.

Two new varieties of birds, a new reptile species, two new species of insects and an additional plant species have recently been discovered at DDCR. The presence of these new species further demonstrates the success of DDCR's extensive conservation programme.

Tony Williams, Senior Vice President, Resorts & Projects, Emirates Hotels & Resorts said: "At 225 square kilometres, the DDCR is the largest protected wildlife reserve in the UAE and is already home to over 230 different varieties of birds, plants and animals. Since DDCR was established in 2001 the team has worked hard to promote and manage the natural habitats back to their original and historic status, prior to the impacts of growing human population and urbanisation; and to re-introduce all possible species indigenous to this region. These new arrivals are therefore a testament to the hard work of the team and the success of our conservation programme."

Commenting on the new arrivals, Greg Simkins, Conservation Manager, DDCR said: "We will build on this success by continuing to manage the eco-system in a way that allows natural processes such as breeding, predator-prey interaction as well as seed dispersion and germination to take place. The longer the DDCR is under conservation management the more it will be able to attract and allow other new species to become established."

The animal and plant species were discovered in the last six months as part of the conservation team's continuous surveys to monitor DDCR's flora and fauna. They include:

  • Bluethroat bird (Luscinia svecica), a small migratory songbird, similar in size to the European Robin. It is brown with a distinctive black tail and red side patches. The Bluethroat bird can be seen in the UAE/DDCR during migration
  • Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) is similar to the Golden Eagle but slightly smaller in body length and belongs to the bird of prey family. This migratory bird is under threat of extinction in Europe
  • Persian Leaf-toed Gecko (Hemidactylus persicus) is from the reptile family. It's a nocturnal gecko species that prefers rocky habitats. Within the UAE it is only found on Quarn Nazwa which forms the northern point of the DDCR
  • Black Pennant Dragonfly (Selysiothemis nigra), is a small, rare, migratory species of dragonfly that stands out because of its disproportionately large head, broad wings and the shape of the pterostigma or the outer wing, which resembles the equals sign. The wings are also clear and shiny making the veins difficult to see. The Black Pennant Dragonfly is found in open spaces rather than in waterways and settles on stunted grass Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosacea,) is a small butterfly that feeds on the Sidr, a tree species
  • Gisekia pharnaceoides plant is a prostate annual species with reddish-violet stems and is uncommon and only recorded in the Northern Emirates

The new species are not common in other desert systems. However, some like the migratory birds are more usually seen in other habitats, such as wetlands and fodder fields. The migrant species such as the Bluethroat, Eastern Imperial Eagle and the Black Pennant, are using the DDCR as a resting ground during their annual migration.

The DDCR, in which the award-winning Emirates property Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa is located, was accepted in 2008 as an official member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world's global environmental organisation and leading authority on conservation and sustainable development. It is the first wildlife and conservation area in the UAE to be formally declared by IUCN as a Protected Area, and places the DDCR alongside some of the world's greatest conservation areas and national parks, including Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks in the USA, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Africa's largest national parks and wildlife reserves.

The Emirates conservation department has maintained overall responsibility and management of the DDCR's activities and operations. Emirates, as the leading driver of tourism in the region, has already invested AED 10 million in the DDCR's conservation and wildlife management programmes.

The Bluethroat bird is a migrant species and uses the DDCR as a resting ground during its annual migration.
The Persian Leaf-toed gecko along with five other animal and plant species were discovered in the last six months as part of the conservation team’s continuous surveys to monitor DDCR’s flora and fauna.
The Mediterranean Pierrot is a small butterfly. The discovery of the six new species in the DDCR further demonstrates the success of its extensive conservation programme.