RIYADH: Sharaan Nature Reserve For nature lovers, explorers and adventurers, AlUla offers a unique safari inside its nature reserve surrounded by a red, rocky landscape, filled with indigenous flora and fauna, that promises an extraordinary experience.
Sitting on 3,000 years of history, the Sharaan Nature Reserve covers an area of 1,500 sq km and falls under the “Vision of AlUla,” launched by the city’s royal commission, which seeks to transform the region responsibly in order to preserve and protect its natural and cultural heritage.
Among these is expanding an animal breeding program; roaming within the reserve are a myriad of species, including Nubian ibexes, red-necked ostriches, Idmi gazelles, endangered Arabian wolves and large-eared red foxes, and most notably, the Arabian leopard.
However, the introduction of domestic livestock to the region has decimated the native vegetation. Overgrazing has led to desertification and habitat degradation in some areas.
Protecting and conserving the sensitive biodiversity native to AlUla is at the top of the commission’s priorities to restore the area. Acacia trees, indigenous to the land, are being planted as part of the project to develop vegetation and rehabilitate AlUla’s natural ecosystem — the trees in time will also provide shade for animals within the habitat.
Among its mountains, visitors can see historical engravings from ancient civilizations of hunters holding spears on horses and camels — which bore religious significance — as well as petroglyphs of old Arabic writings, such as Nabataean.
As part of ongoing efforts to preserve its wildlife, “The Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard” was established by the Royal Commission for AlUla to ensure that Sharaan can safely and adequately host the endangered leopard and protect it from extinction. Its aim is to sustain the leopard population and its prey and protect its natural habitat.
The reserve will also have a resort, expected to be completed by 2023.