Saudi Wildlife Authority: Vulture population threatened by human impact

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Lappet-faced vulture
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Bearded vulture
Updated 19 January 2018
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Saudi Wildlife Authority: Vulture population threatened by human impact

RIYADH: Scientific studies by researchers from the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA) show that a huge number of vulture deaths are a result of poisoning, which will eventually threaten the wildlife ecological balance.
In a study on how vultures are facing threats, Dr. Mohammed Shobrak from the SWA in Taif said that vultures were one of the most threatened families of birds in the world and their decline had been shockingly rapid.
Some species in Africa and the Indian subcontinent have declined by more than 95 percent in the past few decades, a rate faster than that of the passenger pigeon or the dodo.
The biggest driver of these declines is human impact, either by poisoning (intentional or otherwise) or from maltreatment. As a result many Old World, vultures are now critically endangered, meaning they are at risk of becoming extinct in our lifetime.
Shobrak said vultures were efficient scavengers vital in preventing the spread of disease — locating and picking clean carcasses before disease spores could develop — and that their demise would lead to economic, social and environmental problems.
In Saudi Arabia, studies by SWA researchers indicate that many vulture deaths are a result of poisoning.
Another reason for the deterioration in vulture numbers in the Kingdom and other parts of the world is pesticide spraying.
Vultures, despite their stomach’s ability to digest the tissue of an animal that has died as a result of viral or bacterial diseases, are vulnerable to toxic chemicals used in insect eradication.
Shobrak said that deaths of Griffon vultures have been recorded in Saudi Arabia in regions where pesticides are used to control populations of the desert locust.
“Other causes of deterioration are disturbances to nesting sites, especially those that nest in trees, like the lappet-faced vulture,” he said.
Nesting disturbances can affect the reproduction of these birds and may lead to a decrease in their numbers.
Another threat is poorly planned powerlines, wind farms and roads, which result in the deaths of thousands of vultures across Europe and Asia every year.
An SWA official told Arab News that vultures played an important role in cleansing the forests of dead animals, and their absence could lead to other problems in the environment and difficulty in maintaining the ecological balance in the wild.
He said that the SWA had been taking preventive measures to fight the decline of the birds through awareness programs, and by providing protected areas where they would not face human impact.


Jamarat facilities ready to receive pilgrims for Hajj in Saudi Arabia

Updated 19 min 13 sec ago
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Jamarat facilities ready to receive pilgrims for Hajj in Saudi Arabia

  • Fixed and mobile stairways are located throughout the Jamarat area to facilitate pilgrims’ arrival
  • Saudi Arabia considers it a privilege to expand and improve its services to pilgrims every year

JEDDAH:  Jamarat facilities in Mina are fully prepared to receive Hajj pilgrims during the throwing of stones.

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has deployed sunshades, cooling systems, escalators, closed-circuit TV, guidance and awareness-raising signboards and facilities, and information services.

The ministry’s projects include the installation of fixed and mobile cameras along the paths leading to the holy sites to monitor and manage pedestrian movement.

Fixed and mobile stairways are located throughout the Jamarat area to facilitate pilgrims’ arrival.

 

Amenities

Many organizations and entities have provided amenities to help pilgrims on Arafat. Umbrellas have been distributed to provide shade and avoid heat stroke, cold water has been provided to quench pilgrims’ thirst, and food and beverages have been handed out. 

Holy Qur’ans have also been distributed to help pilgrims perform an Islamic ritual that abolishes worshippers’ sins.

Saudi Arabia considers it a privilege to expand and improve its services to pilgrims every year.

 

Live broadcast

The Media Ministry has launched a live broadcast of Hajj rituals on social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, as well as on YouTube.

The ministry has provided 19 channels transmitting in Arabic, English, Urdu, Malay, French and German.

 

Free internet

Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) has announced it will provide 1GB free for every pilgrim who uses its prepaid services as a gift to pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season. The gift is aimed at facilitating their experience during Hajj on the day of Tarwiya and Arafat.

STC chairman, Nasser bin Sulaiman Al-Nasser, explained that the company’s gift came as a result of instructions from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to all governmental and private bodies related to the service of pilgrims.

 

Educate pilgrims

Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said the ministry has launched an awareness campaign in six languages — Arabic, English, French, Russian, Chinese and Persian — to educate pilgrims on Hajj regulations, provide them with health advice, and help them follow schedules in order to avoid overcrowding.

The ministry has launched the Manasikana smartphone app to provide pilgrims with services in eight languages, Mashat added.

The app informs pilgrims of grouping and transport plans, helps them find camps, lodgings and companions, and enables them to send reports and complaints to concerned authorities at the ministry.