JEDDAH: Three endangered species have been given a new home in their original habitat, the ancient city of Hegra in AlUla.
The release of 25 Rhim gazelle, 10 Nubian ibex and eight Arabian oryx into the wild was a result of cooperation between the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the National Center for Wildlife, a government agency tasked with the protection and conservation of wildlife in the Kingdom.
The animals will find their new home at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, with their release marking the third wave of species reintroduced to the wild as part of an initiative that was announced on the UN’s World Wildlife Day.
The initiative was launched in 2019 in the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in conjunction with the RCU’s vision for AlUla, to conserve the county’s natural heritage while engaging local communities.
Culture Minister and RCU governor Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud said: “This initiative is a continuation of the RCU’s commitment to the protection and conservation of AlUla’s precious wildlife and natural habitats. This wildlife release has a unique setting against the magnificent backdrop of Hegra, a UNESCO-inscribed site and a staple of AlUla’s tourism offering. The site has been carefully prepared to host these species with an integrated protection and monitoring program, and we’re delighted with the first release of animals, which visitors will be able to see when they visit Hegra.”
He added that the RCU was continuously working to restore habitats and reintroduce wildlife to help conserve and enhance AlUla’s natural environment, and to ensure its nature was as “spectacular” as its heritage landscape.
“Last year we announced the Sharaan Nature Reserve, a 1,500-square kilometer area to protect and conserve the region’s most diverse wildlife habitats. And now, with the Hegra wildlife release, we continue our journey of restoration in AlUla.”
This project is part of a wider vision to sustainably develop AlUla, guided by the RCU’s Strategic Principles, as a global destination for cultural and natural heritage.
Part of this long-term vision is to prepare for the possible future reintroduction of the Arabian leopard and other native wildlife species.