25 Sep 2020

Arabian Sand Gazelle – Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area

My family and I saw a number of Arabian sand gazelle Gazella marica, in Mahazat As-Sayd Protected Area on out trip there. The Arabian sand gazelle Gazella subgutturosa maricaknown locally as Al reem is a species of gazelle native to the Syrian and Arabian Deserts. Today it survives in the wild in small, isolated populations in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and southeastern Turkey. The total population of wild sand gazelles is thought to be less than 3,000 although significantly more are held in captivity, reserves, or breeding programs. Until recently, the sand gazelle was considered a subspecies of the goitered gazelle Gazella subgutturosa, however a 2010 genetic study established that it was a distinct lineage and it is now considered a separate species. Further genetic analysis reported in 2012 found that the sand gazelle was closely related to two North African gazelles, Cuvier's gazelle Gazella cuvieri and the rhim Gazella leptoceros, perhaps even belonging to a single species. Known locally as Al reem it has declined significantly in numbers mainly due to illegal hunting and habitat loss. In Saudi Arabia, the majority of historical records are from the northern gravel plains and black lava deserts in the north and west of the Nafud desert. Due to the decline, a national captive-breeding program was started by the Saudi Wildlife Authority at its King Khalid Wildlife Research Center near Riyadh to produce Sand Gazelles for reintroduction in the wild with the objectives to establish a free-ranging, self-sustaining population in Mahazat as-Sayd Protected Area. This protected area had previously held Sand Gazelle and the number of animals present suggest the reintroduction plan has worked well. Arabian sand gazelle is a graceful gazelle native to deserts in the Arabian Peninsula. It lives in sand dunes and coastal flats, and avoids steep and rocky areas.
Arabian Sand Gazelle

Arabian Sand Gazelle

Arabian Sand Gazelle

Arabian Sand Gazelle

Arabian Sand Gazelle

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