Monday, June 17, 2013

Shaumary Wildlife Refuge

We drove out to Shumari wildlife refuge, looking forward to seeing the oryx and wildlife. We stopped to look at a reservoir for water storage, and I was focused on the drying clay. Large cracks formed large cracks in the clay, and the soils were a gray blue gleyed color; Iwas in my head thinking of hydric soils and was this montmorillonite? Then a huge boom crashed the air, causing me to jump, and I looked up to see military manuuvers doing bombing runs. F-16 planes, high up almost invisible and screaming in, dropped bombs precisely on their targets. The American military is doing military exercises with the Jordanian military. They are showing their presence, here only about 100 miles from Syria, 130 miles from Iraq, 30 miles from Saudi Arabia. Whats the point? A no fly zone over Syria? Flexing muscles, beating chests? How much does every bomb cost?

At the wildlife refuge, the animals here for captive breeding were nervous at the bombing in near proximity. Not because they were close enough to do damage, but because of the fear because of the loud percussive noice. I think of how much my poor dog is so scared of fire works.  The birds were really scared. We stood on the tall tower, about 40 feet above the growd, talked to the biologist, watching  the endangered Arabian oryx, wild ass, and sand gazelle. The Oryx were bred in captive breeding in the Phoenix zoo, then returned to Shaumari. The reserve was established around 1975, and the enclosures built in 1978. The conservation biologists are testing DNA on the animals, and are careful to breed with other genetic strains to make sure there is genetic diversity among the herd. Right now they have 46 Oryx, 30 Gazelle and 22 Onyger (wild ass).

Oryx were introduced successfully in Oman, but efficient and brutal poaching almost eliminated them. The reserve was pulled from the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

The reserve should have a visitors center open for local to be developed near the administration building within 2 years. They also plan a Safari Project with safari vehicles on a 7 km trail. 

There are 15 gazelle from Syria and 20 from Saudi Arabia.  Apparently, this is a point of recovery of some very endangered species. However, these bombs going off so close don't make anything feel safe. An impending uncertainty settles like dust.

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