4 Jan 2016

Southwest Arabian endemic area animals & birds

The southwest Arabian endemic area ecoregion, together with the Tihamah plain, is home to the majority of southwest Arabian endemic bird species. The montane juniper woodlands are vital habitat for these birds, such as the Yemen Linet Carduelis yemenensis, Yemen Thrush Turdus menachensis and Yemen Warbler Parisoma buryi. These species are dependent on juniper berries as a food source and also use the juniper trees for nesting. The dramatic cliff faces on the escarpment rim are home to large raptors such as the Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus and the Verreaux Eagle Aquila verreauxii and the small Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides. As the Arabian Peninsula forms a bridge between the African and Eurasian continents, the Asir Mountains and the western highlands of Yemen provide an important resting spot for migrating birds. The high escarpment and cliffs are especially important to migrating raptors in autumn. Wadi Turabah in Saudi Arabia is the last place in the Arabian Peninsula where the Hammerkop Scopus umbretta can be found nesting, and the isolated and distinctive endemic race Pica pica asirensis is pressent on Shalla ad-Dhana, near Tanoumah. Large mammals inhabit these highlands. The Asir escarpment is known to be one of the last strongholds in Saudi Arabia of the Arabian Leopard Panthera pardus nimr, thought to number around 50 individuals. Hamadryas Baboon Papio hamadryas is expanding and has become common around cities such as Abha and Taif. The Caracal Caracal caracal schmitzi is still relatively widespread, Arabian Wolf Canis lupus arabs is now extremely rare and in danger of extinction through persecution and hybridization with feral dogs, Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis jayakari is still fairly common in areas around Taif, but its distribution range is fast decreasing and the Striped Hyaena Hyaena hyaena is also a resident of this area. In Saudi Arabia the Ministry of Agriculture and Water created the Asir National Park (4,150 km2) in 1981. In this park and its surrounding areas, there have been 34 mammal species, 245 bird species, 41 reptile species and 7 amphibian species recorded. The Saudi National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD), established in 1986, is the main body responsible for nature conservation and protected area management. The NCWCD has a comprehensive system plan for protected areas with one existing protected area, the Raydah Reserve (approximately 9 km2) one of the prime areas of intact juniper forest in this ecoregion. Poor regeneration among the juniper forests is causing concern among environmentalists. One cause may be infestation of cones by a tortricide moth with another possible cause the lack of seedling survival caused by human disturbance, grazing pressure or climatic change. This information is taken from the World Wide Fund for Nature data.
Arabian Leopard
Arabian Leopard
Hamadryas Baboon - male
Hamadryas Baboon - male
Stripped Hyaena
Stripped Hyaena

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