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Abu Dhabi nature offers ecological treasure chest

Abu Dhabi nature offers ecological treasure chest
23 June 2024 18:20

Mays Ibrahim (ABU DHABI)

A stone's throw away from Abu Dhabi's larger-than-life skyscrapers is a tapestry of little-traversed natural worlds teeming with biodiversity. From expansive desert dunes to wildlife havens, fertile oasis, and tranquil mangrove forests, the UAE capital boasts a wealth of untamed natural splendor waiting to be discovered.

Sir Bani Yas Island: A Haven of Wildlife and Adventure
Just a short distance from the vibrant cityscape of Abu Dhabi lies Sir Bani Yas Island.

Initially established as a Royal Nature Reserve by UAE's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in 1971, this island has blossomed into an expansive 87 km² sanctuary for wildlife thanks to dedicated conservation efforts.

The Arabian Wildlife Park, sprawling across more than half of the island, guarantees an awe-inspiring experience with over 17,000 free-roaming animals. Visitors can marvel at the graceful Arabian Oryx, gazelles, giraffes, hyenas, and even catch glimpses of majestic cheetahs.

Beyond wildlife encounters, the island boasts forty-two historical sites and an array of thrilling activities such as kayaking, mountain biking, archery, and snorkeling.

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve: Where Flamingos Dance in Nature's Symphony
Nestled 40 km from Abu Dhabi, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve beckons nature enthusiasts with its serene landscapes and rich biodiversity.

Initially a coastal salt flat, this reserve has evolved into a lush oasis comprising natural and man-made lakes, serving as a haven for over 250 species of birds, 37 plant species, and a diverse range of aquatic life.

A standout feature of Al Wathba is its role as a breeding ground for the Greater Flamingo, where thousands of these pink wading birds gather during autumn and spring.

In 2018, the reserve was honored with a place on the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas, marking it the first site in the region to receive this recognition.

Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital: Preserving Heritage and Majesty
Dedicated to the care of falcons, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is a testament to the cultural significance of these majestic birds in Emirati tradition.

Founded in 1999 under the patronage of the late Sheikh Zayed, the hospital is the largest of its kind globally, treating around 11,000 falcons annually.

The facility not only serves as a veterinary hub but also educates guests on the profound role falcons play in the UAE's cultural tapestry.

Visitors to the hospital can immerse themselves in the world of falconry, learning about the intricate breeding and healthcare practices that have sustained this ancient tradition through generations.

Mangrove National Park: Nature's Sentinel at Abu Dhabi's Edge
Along the edge of Abu Dhabi's urban sprawl, the Mangrove National Park stands as a vital ecological sanctuary, comprising nearly 75% of the UAE's mangrove forest area.
These resilient forests not only harbor a rich array of flora and fauna, including greater flamingos, western reef herons and mottled crabs but also act as natural buffers against tidal surges and contribute significantly to carbon sequestration.

Protected under the stewardship of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) and part of the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network, the Mangrove National Park is another testament to Abu Dhabi's commitment to environmental conservation.

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