Arabian Gazelle spotted on Jabal Samhan foothills

By Kaushalendra Singh — SALALAH: May 8 – Greenery apart, Dhofar is home to a large number of flora and fauna. More than that, some researchers have found Dhofar mountains home to some rare species of Arabian Leopards and Arabian Gazelle (Gazella Arabica). You keep this bookish knowledge in the back of your mind untill your eyes remain wide open and you start searching for a camera to catch the moment after suddenly spotting a Gazelle in front of you during your leisurely drive on the foothills of Jabal Samhan. By the time you set the camera the Gazelle jumps to the other side of the road, leaving you clueless and you are left only with some hazy mobile camera pictures of the rare creature, the total population size of which has been estimated at 1,737 through a survey done in November 2014.
It happened with this correspondent on Saturday while coming back from Mirbat to Salalah. The lonely creature seemed to have stopped after hearing the sound of the vehicle and remained perturbed when it saw the vehicle stopped and all the occupants of the car drew their mobile phones to catch the moment.
1005801The Gazelle did not give time to anyone to adjust cameras, as the beautiful creature’s colour was matching with the rocks, yellow soil and local plants, and by the time people in the car were ready for the proper shoot, the smart animal was lost in the wilderness.
An immediate search for information on Arabian Gazelles in Dhofar on Internet led to an abstract of research done by Hadi al Hikmani, Said Zabanoot, Talah al Shahari, Nasser Zabanoot, Khalid Al Hikmani and Andrew Spalton.
The research highlights on the ‘Status of the Arabian Gazelle, Gazella Arabica (Mammalia: Bovidae), in Dhofar’ and states that “the Arabian Gazelle was once widely distributed in Oman, but its population decreased through illegal hunting and capture of the species. It is now found in small, isolated populations in the country, but little is known about the size and dynamics of these populations.”
In November 2014 they conducted a survey to estimate the density and size of two populations in the Dhofar region, one in the foot-hills of Jabal Samhan and the other in the Najd. “Population densities were found to be 0.33 animals/km2 at Jabal Samhan and 0.28 animals/ km2 in Najd. The total population size for the two areas combined was extrapolated to be 1,737 animals,” said the abstract.
The Office for Conservation of the Environment (OCE) has taken up the challenging task of conserving the rare animals and birds through many Nature Reserves and Environmental Projects. These initiatives have attracted huge interest from environmentalists and researchers from around the world and have hailed Oman for its efforts to conserve the environment.