Wildlife in Saudi Arabia
Over-utilisation of rangelands and excessive hunting have extirpated most larger mammal species in the Kingdom. Notoriously harsh environmental conditions, an increasing human population and competition with large free-ranging herds of domestic stock - mainly camels - further exacerbate the plight of wildlife in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Wildlife Commission (SWC) established a system of protected areas and captive breeding programmes for gazelles, Arabian oryx and houbara bustard for re-introduction to suitable, managed protected areas.
King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre
The King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre (KKWRC) is a breeding centre for Mountain gazelle and Arabian Sand gazelle. Animals from KKWRC provided the founders for self-sustaining populations in 3 protected areas (Ibex Reserve, Uruq Bani M’arid & Mahazat as-Sayd) and continue to serve as the source of animals for augmentation of populations that might be depleted through poaching or natural catastrophe. Since 1989 ZSL has managed the Centre and provided research staff.
Establishing and maintaining healthy populations of depleted or extirpated species both in captivity and in the wild.
Undertaking necessary applied research on the conservation, wildlife health and management of Saudi Arabian mammals to underpin population recovery.
Building Saudi Arabian capacity in conservation and wildlife health
What we do at the KKWRC
Breeding and management of gazelles and other species for re-introduction
Veterinary management and disease
research on wildlife
Conservation science studies, animal population and habitat monitoring for protected area management and biodiversity surveys
Molecular genetics, phylogeography and parentage testing
- At the 12000km2 Uruq Bani Ma'arid reserve in the Saudi empty quarter we undertook one of the largest re-introduction projects ever with the release of captive bred sand and mountain gazelles alongside Arabian oryx; an area where these species became extinct in the 1970s. The descendents of these founders now represent the largest wild populations of gazelle species in mainland Saudi Arabia.
- Substantial sand and mountain gazelle source populations are maintained in a managed captive breeding programme at KKWRC.
- Staff continue to develop techniques for monitoring these populations in collaboration with the Saudi Wildlife Commission (SWC).
- At the Ibex Reserve standardised
monitoring patrols started in 2001 are ongoing in collaboration with Reserve staff, providing information on ibex and reintroduced gazelles as well as building capacity amongst the ranger force.
- Protocols for aerial population monitoring have been developed for Mahazat as Sayd, Uruq Bani Ma’Arid, Farasan Islands and Harrat al Harrah, and SWC staff trained in carrying them out.
- Diseases in livestock and wildlife in and around protected areas and in private collections are detected and monitored.
- An 18-year record of vegetation response to climate and grazing history at KKWRC.