Wednesday 24 October, 2018 saw the third annual Oman Natural Heritage Lecture in association with the Anglo-Omani Society taking place at the RGS-IBG’s Ondaatje Theatre. The evening focused on Oman’s hidden conservation heritage, including details of the Arabian Tahr and the Nubian Ibex. The main speakers were Mr Haitham Al Rawahi and Mr Taimur Al Said from the Office for Conservation of the Environment, Diwan of Royal Court, Sultanate of Oman. There then followed a panel session with the speakers, moderated by Mr Hadi Al Hikmani and Nigel Winser.
To celebrate this prestigious event, fifty Geographical readers were able to claim a free ticket to attend the lecture!
The Arabian Tahr Conservation Programme by Haitham Al Rawahi
The Arabian tahr (Arabitragus jayakari) is an endangered species found only in the Hajar mountains of the Sultanate of Oman with less than 2,500 estimated to be found worldwide. The tahr is a mountain goat belonging to the Caprinae sub-family. With a dimorphic body shape, tahr males have wider and longer horns than females. Moreover, males have a distinctive beard, sock-like hair, and a dark mane along their back.
In the Hajar Mountains of Oman, the three main hot-spots with high density of the tahr population are the Al Sareen Nature Reserve, the Jabal Qahwan Reserve and the surrounding Nakhal Mountains. The Office for Conservation of the Environment at the Diwan of Royal Court, in collaboration with other local organisations, has run a number of studies of the tahr’s habitat, distribution and ecology, including trapping and GPS-collaring 27 of the animals, revealing the fascinating relationship between tahr and their vertical habitat.
The Nubian Ibex, an icon of the Huqf ecosystem by Taimur Al Said
To the untrained eye the Huqf seems like a desolate wasteland, but the area provides important habitat to many forms of biodiversity specially adapted to the arid conditions. To understand the distribution and status of biodiversity, Omani field researchers have initiated an ambitious first camera trapping survey and research project of the area covering over 4,000km2 of desert, cliffs, mountains and plains.
The research is focusing on the Nubian ibex, an elusive mountain goat living in the Huqf escarpment which we know little about, but which is increasingly threatened and disappearing. To do this the team is using camera trapping to identify the distribution and status of ibex, conservation hotspots for the species, and identifying reliable population monitoring tools. In addition, they aim to live-capture the large mountain goat to attach small GPS-tags that will track the movements of ibex, showing us the species daily needs and requirements, area use and seasonal behaviour.
The research is uncovering the species habits and habitats, crucial information in order to protect the home and behaviours of the species. While discussing the research project, Taimur Al Said described the ups and downs of the fieldwork and other biodiversity discoveries of the area.
This event has now taken place, but be sure to keep checking back for details of the 2019 Lecture!