Oman Natural Heritage Lecture held in London

Muscat, Oct 25 – Omani conservation and ecological science received a royal seal of approval last week, as Prince Michael of Kent, well known for his charitable interests, attended the second annual Oman Natural Heritage Lecture.
Sayyid Bader bin Hamad al Busaidi and Taeeb Salim Al Alawi, Deputy Head of Mission from the Sultan of Oman Embassy attended, alongside other representatives of the Sultanate and neighbouring countries, and diplomats from the Oman Embassy.
Kamela al Barami from the Embassy co-chaired the evening and delivered a wonderful opening address, with Dr Nigel Winser, a long-time advocate and supporter of Oman’s efforts in conservation, and one of the United Kingdom-based organisers of this, the second lecture, in what is proving an immensely popular series. This lecture also took place in London, again at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society.
Omani conservationist Hadi al Hikmani, Dr Roderic Dutton and Sean Nelson, other members of the UK Oman Natural Heritage Group took part in the event.
The first conservation-based lecture at the Royal Geographical Society last October, featured ‘Arabian Leopards and Aflaj Hydroponics.’
The theme this year was the Marine environment and focused essentially on new research, and research findings, conservation progress and how tourism has the potential to safeguard Oman’s unique marine heritage, particularly whales, dolphins and turtles.
Oman-based photographer, Khalid Ateeq prepared a stunning audio-visual presentation that was shown to the audience as they arrived, and during the lecture, while Dr Saif al Shaqsi, from the Oman National Field Research Centre for Environmental Conservation, showed a new film from the National Field Research Centre describing Oman’s Marine world and recent research surveys.
The first of the two principal speakers was Aida Al Jabri representing the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Affairs in Oman. She explained that their current knowledge and understanding was originally derived from research on strandings, while recent hi-tech research involving satellite tracking, cutting-edge genetic study, vessel surveys at sea and passive acoustic monitoring, has revealed a cetacean fauna of a diversity that few could have expected before earnest work began in Oman in the early 2000s.
Suaad Al Harthi from the Environment Society of Oman, focused on promoting environmental awareness and advocating for conservation through the development of community outreach, environmental education and, research and conservation programmes. Rob Baldwin of 5 Oceans Consultancy Services, has been part of the marine research/science community in Oman for many years, and he gave a technical report on recent surveys of the Humpback Whales and Turtles along the coast of Oman, and an overview of Oman’s unique marine heritage.
Baldwin, Al Harthi, Al Jabri, Al Shaqsi, and Ateeq demonstrated to an appreciative audience that Oman pays more than lip service to the issues identified during what must surely become an annual event.
Dr Winser and his large team of ‘helpers’ continue too, to raise awareness of issues far from their own backyard, and in doing so, demonstrate genuine compassion for the species, their environment, and our responsibility.

Ray Petersen