UAE’s endangered wildlife conservation center at Kalba

Recently opened Al Hefaiya Mountain Conservation Center is a new jewel added by Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) to sustainable tourism projects in Sharjah. It was inaugurated on 6th March 2016 by H.H. Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad AlQuasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.

 

Al Hefaiya Mountain Conservation Center, Kalba

This beautiful conservation center is located in Kalba at the base of Hajar Mountain range, the drive to the center from Dubai through wadi Helo was scenic too (click here to watch)!
This is first of its kind conservation center for local wildlife some of which are listed on the International union of conservation of nature (ICUN) red list of endangered species. The Al Hefaiya center, these conservation efforts are taken
1. Habitat preservation & restoration
2. Captive breeding & research
3. Rehabilitation of these endangered species.

 

So you get to see the animals at the center living in their natural habitat not in an artificially created environment in captivity like zoos. The best part is the center is built around a small hill and separate portions of the slope are assigned to big animals like Arabian leopard, Arabian wolf etc.
Visitors can take a ride in an electric buggy around the hill and can have a look at animals. There is outdoor viewing for good weather and during summer you can just enter the building see all the animals from indoor viewing facility.

Walking in outdoor viewing facility

The structure of center is very innovative and open with the use of a lot of daylight. The audio stations give you a complete experience of being close to the animals. In those designated audio sections, you can hear the sound of animals in real time and see the same animal through the glass walls. The seating provided are natural huge rocks. I haven’t seen a more sustainable wildlife conservation center in UAE than this!

 

The wild life display contains Insects, Birds, Mammals, Amphibians, Reptiles, and fish. Around 30 species of animals are kept and bred over 12 sq meters of center.

UAE’s Endangered Wild Life

 

It was a fascinating experience to see and observe the wild life first hand,  once wondered freely in this land and now almost not known like the critically endangered Arabian leopard, endangered Arabian Tahr and near threatened striped hyena.

There was another local wild life which is under least concerned list of ICUN but was very interesting. Caracal Cat, which is fierce and territorial. While I was taking photos, it was staring at my son and started walking toward him on the other side of the fence. The body language and looks in its eyes were very uncomfortable for us as parents, my son felt shy and later got little scared too. Later I learned the facts that it can jump higher than 3 meters and kills bird mid-air! Isn’t quite thrilling?

Imagine this animal walking towards your child!

 

One of the Arabian wolf, got alerted and stood up in his cave with raised ears when I started taking the photos. Similar alertness Arabian leopard showed. After a while, I gave up pointing my zoom lenses at animals feeling little guilty.

The stripped hyena looked little uncomfortable in its designated area as it was walking continuously near the fence area, later it took rest in the hideout. The Arabian Tahr was busy grazing on his part of the mountain. The logo of Hefaiya conservation center is Arabian Tahr. Part of the center is dark, where nocturnal animals are kept. My son was totally entertained by Gordon’s Wild cats kept here, which are near threatened on ICUN red list And finally this time we could observe very closely Branford foxes, we had encountered them on one of our camping trips click here to read our thrilling experience.

 

There is one of the most scenic cafes inside the center from where you can see the surrounding landscape and beautiful mountain gazelles stationed in that area around the water hole.

 

You can see animal feeding kitchen and can learn about wild life through educational information displayed through out the center. Even few old books in Arabic are displayed, where this wildlife are described along with sketches and paintings. There is some beautiful art on Arabian wildlife displayed through out the center. This is one place not to be missed if you wonder, who used to live in this desert?
Remember next time you go dune bashing or wadi bashing or camping around UAE, there might be these animals staying there, so behave responsibly. Some of these wild life are already critically endangered because of habitat loss. so please don’t disturb their homes. Read here some dos and don’t about visiting Wadies in UAE

 

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I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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