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First wild born cheetah for 40 years in Arabia

15/04/2010 23:46:58

The cheetahs on Sir Bani Yas Island are the only wild cheetahs in the U.A.E.

Cheetah cubs born in UAE wildlife reserve on Sir Bani Yas Island

April 2010. The last known Arabian cheetah was shot in Saudi Arabia in 1950, though they may have hung on in Oman until around 1970. Now 4 cubs have been born in the wild in a nature reserve on an island off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Wildlife Extra believes that this is also the first time that cheetah have successfully been reintroduced into the wild anywhere in the world.

The cheetahs on Sir Bani Yas Island are from captive bred populations. The mother and father of the cubs, Safira and Gabriel were raised in Dubai's Wildlife Centre and the Sharjah Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife. The cheetahs were brought to the island as part of conservation efforts which include breeding, re-wilding, releasing into the Arabian Wildlife Park to become an integral part of the natural population control for hoofed species on the island.

Safira is fitted with a radio collar and can be
tracked and monitored by the conservation team
on the island.

Cheetahs taught to hunt for themselves
The Sir Bani Yas Island conservation team spends a great deal of time and effort into putting animals that are brought to the island from captive populations through a re-wilding programme and ensuring that the animals are trained to hunt and be self-sufficient before they are released into the Arabian Wildlife Park. Once they are released, the conservation team is removed completely from the animals' day-to-day activities, and the cheetahs, Safira and Gabriel, are a telling example of what can be achieved through re-wilding as they hunt and fend for themselves without human interference.

Low survival rate
Survival rates for cheetah cubs are very low both in the wild and captivity, and according to the conservation team, Safira, the cubs' mother, is doing an impressive job of taking care of her cubs, even though she was raised by humans. She has not yet moved the cubs from their original birth place in a small cave in the mountains. Safira is fitted with a radio collar and can be tracked and monitored by the conservation team on the island.

Exotic zoo or recreating the wild?

There is a question as to whether this project is a large scale zoo or a bona fide conservation project. Wildlife Extra believes that, if these cheetah are genuinely left to be wild, and form the basis for a reintroduction project for the rest of Arabia, it can only be a good thing.

Arabian Oryx
The flagship specie on Sir Bani Yas is the Arabian Oryx that was introduced in 1971 and was an unprecedented success, as the animal was declared extinct in the wild by 1972. Now, there are around 400 Arabian Oryx on Sir Bani Yas Island roaming freely in the park.

Cheetah for sale in Abu Dhabi

However Wildlife Extra is distressed to find a website based in Abu Dhabi offering cheetah and ocelot kittens for sale. We stress that this is nothing to do with the Arabian Wildlife Park, but it does show that the authorities in Abu Dhabi have a a little way to go to to fully protect cheetah in Abu Dhabi. There can be no conservation while there is a commercial trade in such a rare species.




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