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.


Leading monitor of crucial events in the Saudi Arabia for 100 years: Umm Al-Qura newspaper

Umm Al-Qura was the first newspaper to be published during the time of Saudi Arabia's founder.
Updated 38 min 16 sec ago
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Leading monitor of crucial events in the Saudi Arabia for 100 years: Umm Al-Qura newspaper

  • It was the first newspaper to be issued at the time of the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz
  • Al-Ahmadi clarified that the newspaper’s first issue was published in December 1924

MAKKAH: It is considered one of the most important and prestigious Saudi Arabian newspapers. 

It has witnessed crucial decisions in the country, observed the history of the region throughout a century, recording details of life in the Kingdom becoming a reference for historical decisions and events.

Umm Al-Qura’s Editor in Chief Abdullah Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper has the support and supervision of Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad, who has harnessed all the resources for its modern launch. Al-Ahmadi clarified that the newspaper’s first issue was published in December 1924.

It was the first newspaper to be issued at the time of the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz. The headline in the first issue of the newspaper was “The Makkah Declaration,” and this story was accompanied by news and official statements.

Al-Ahmadi said that the paper continued its coverage during World War II, although its presses did stop for a period of up to eight weeks in 1924 before King Abdul Aziz ordered paper to be imported and printing to resume.

Umm Al-Qura’s first editor in chief was Sheikh Yusuf Yassin, who was followed by Rushdi Malhas. Both figures held diplomatic positions during King Abdul Aziz’s reign, along with Mohammed Saeed Abdul Maksoud, Fouad Shaker and Abdul Quddus Al-Ansari.

Al-Ahmadi added that the newspaper has monitored the personal stories of the Kingdom’s kings, giving precise details of the historical and political events of the last century. He added that it has the full Saudi archive and it has become a historical reference for history, the economy and politics.

Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper was a combination of news, sports and social events during 30 years of its foundation. It had adverts on some pages, reflecting the region’s identity and local, economic and cognitive dimensions.

Al-Ahmadi said that with its launch, the newspaper formed the memory, aspirations and ambitions of Saudi Arabia. It was the only media platform in which the world explored the local news, along with the cultural, educational and economic news. 

It covered their advocacy of the crucial decisions — notably the Palestinian cause that Saudi Arabia has defended since the time of its founder.

Umm Al-Qura’s editor in chief said his main concern, along with his former colleagues in the newspaper’s management, was its development and relaunch, pointing out that a number of challenges have been overcome. 

The newspaper has been developed across the board — from layout and content to its brand logo and colors, he said.

Al-Ahmadi added that new and modern printers have been provided, and the newspaper has improved in line with technical and modern changes. 

He said the government also helped restore the back issues damaged by moths.

The operation was carried out by specialized experts who supervised the whole operation to protect the issues from getting lost. All issues were archived online and missing issues are being updated, he added.

Al-Ahmadi said that the newspaper’s website will provide a digital media platform for the documentation process, giving integrated information about the newspaper.

Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper has a website archive for researchers and academics. 

He added that a large number of master’s and doctorate degrees as well as surveys took place with the help of the newspaper that has become a historic reference for scholars and researchers.