Shaumari Reserve was created in 1975 by the Royal Society
for the Conservation of Nature as a breeding centre for endangered
or locally extinct wildlife. Today, following breeding programmes
with some of the world's leading wildlife parks and zoos,
this small, 22-square-kilometre reserve is a thriving protected
environment for some of the most rare species of animals in
the Middle East. Oryx, ostriches, onagers (an Asian wild ass)
and gazelles, which are depicted on many local 6th century
Byzantine mosaics, are rebuilding their populations and reasserting
their presence in this safe haven, protected from hunting
and habitat destruction that nearly wiped them out.
Oryx and onagers can often be seen roaming freely in their
large desert grassland enclosure, and the ostriches and gazelles
can be observed in their own fenced areas. Shaumari's breeding
enclosures provide a small "zoo" for visitors, making
the reserve a popular spot for children and school outings.
Shaumari area once contained an abundance of large animals,
including gazelles, Oryx, onager, ostrich, cheetah, hyena
and wolf. While most of these animals have disappeared from
Shaumari altogether, some are now a part of the pioneering
wildlife reintroduction programme.
playground and picnic area is located on the outside premises
of the Visitors' Centre.
observation tower provides eager animal watchers with a perfect
location for spotting the Reserve's wildlife. The early hours
of the morning are in particular the best for observing the
Oryx in its natural environment.
Arabian Oryx's Story
Arabian Oryx, an elegant white antelope, is one of the few
mammals indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. It became extinct
in Jordan around the 1920s, as a result of the increased hunting
for its meat, coat and horns. The increasing range and power
of rifles compounded by the factor of motorized vehicles were
the key to the extinction of the Oryx. The last known wild
Arabian Oryx in the world was killed by hunters in Oman in
Fortunately, previous to
this incident, in 1962, the Flora and Fauna Preservation Society
and the World Wildlife Fund had launched an international
rescue effort known as Operation Oryx. A world survival herd
was established in the USA, with three animals from Oman,
one from the London zoo, one from Kuwait, and four from Saudi
Arabia. This herd increased steadily in numbers, and the Royal
Society for the Conservation of Nature proposed that the Arabian
Oryx should be reintroduced into its native habitat in the
deserts of the Arabian Peninsula.
1978, eleven Arabian Oryx were relocated in Shaumari. The
number of Oryx has now increased to a phenomenal two hundred!
Operation Oryx has been so successful that Jordan now supplies
Oryx to other countries, which are conducting reintroduction
there & road map: see under following Link"Azraq