Wildlife poaching continues to be a worldwide threat despite efforts by governments at various levels. Occasional reports of poaching are also reported by Oman’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs and the Royal Oman Police (ROP).
A study, ‘Poaching — A threat to vulnerable and wild animal species in Oman’, published in 2014, reports how poaching affects wildlife species such as the Arabian gazelles.
There have been several reports of poaching of gazelles in Oman despite warnings from the authorities.
According to Oman’s Public Prosecution, the hunting or smuggling of gazelles, Oryx and deer from nature reserves is a crime punishable by imprisonment of five years and a fine of RO 5,000.
At the same time, the population of Arabian Oryx has been rising in the past few years, with their number currently standing at 680, according to the Environment Conservation Office at the Diwan of Royal Court.
The office attributed the increase in Arabian Oryx population to strict monitoring by wildlife rangers working day and night in protecting them as well as other wild animals from poaching and hunting.
Many cases of poaching were reported in Oman in the recent past.
Three people were arrested by the ROP, including a GCC national, after receiving information about an illegal fishing vessel in Dhank. The vessel was seized with the three on board. Communication equipment, binoculars and gazelle meat were found in the vessel.
Two people were arrested for poaching Arabian gazelles at Jabal Kahwan reserve sanctuary.
A gang of alleged poachers fired at wildlife wardens in the Wadi Sareen Nature Reserve in Al Amerat, home to protected Arabian Gazelle and Arabian Tahr.
Six poachers were arrested by the Office of Wildlife Conservation, in coordination with the ROP, for hunting four deer and wild birds in Muscat. Legal procedures would be initiated against the accused.
Three GCC nationals were arrested for breaching wildlife regulations in Ibri. Weapons and fishing tools were confiscated from them on Sunday.
The government has been exploring the option of opening the wildlife reserve for eco-tourism as it may help to tackle the problem of illegal hunting, which continues to be reported occasionally despite continuous patrolling in the protected areas.
Oman vast coastline is also home to dolphins, whales and sharks.
Meanwhile, wildlife experts say ordinary citizens should say no to any cosmetic or home décor products made from animals. Why should poachers and hunters put their lives at risk if there is no market for these items?
According to poachingfacts.com, illegal wildlife trade impacts legally operating businesses and tourism to the tune of $ 70-213 billion a year around the world. The report says it infringes on the natural resources of countries around the world, apart from contributing to the extinction of some species and funding of the criminal organisations. The report adds that few countries provide statistics on the number of poachers arrested or killed, wildlife illegally killed, or the number of rangers and other personnel killed in the line of duty.