Simple efforts that impact wildlife

Koshy Samuel spotted the red fox despite it camouflaging with the barren landscape. He was headed to join a fun hike at the nearby mountains of Bandar al Khairan at six in the morning on a Saturday when it caught his attention.
The fox wasn’t doing anything in particular, perhaps resting after a chase. The locals in the area have reported many sightings in the last few months and Koshy was delighted to see one even just for a few seconds.
He described the animal to be bigger than your typical housecat — and suggested that it was still a few months old. Its feral eyes were piercing and it navigated the mountainous landscape with ease.
The Arabian red foxes (Vulpes vulpes arabica) are witty and cunning and thrive in the country’s mountainous areas. Unlike wolves, they are said to be solitary animals preferring to hunt for food on their own.
The red foxes are just some of the animals that make up Oman’s diverse wildlife and Koshy is just one of the hobbyists who enjoy seeing them at their natural habitat.
For photographer Haitham al Farsi, March 3 was an important day. While he enjoys taking photos of different subjects and genres, wild animals are some of his favourites to take photos of.
His passion for photographing them led him to venture to the Al Wusta Nature Reserve where a lot of Oman’s wild animals have found a home.
“I recently visited it just to see what can be found in that safari. I ended up taking lots of photos of different species, from the now popular Arabian oryxes and gazelles to other smaller creatures like hares and foxes,” he said.
“I think it was so fitting as I learned about conservation efforts being made in the Sultanate which was timely with March 3 being the World Wildlife Day,” he shared.
March 3 as World Wildlife Day went without much fanfare in the Sultanate. Now the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife according to conservationists, the declaration was made on December 20, 2013, at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
This year’s celebration carries the theme “Life below water: for people and planet” which aligned with the goal 14 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals but conservationists in Oman aside from putting the needed focus on underwater animals, still would like to pursue advocating for all wild animals.
For the Environment Society of Oman, to support conservation efforts made all over the world, has come up with the following tips and advice.
• Do not hunt or disturb wild species.
• Do not take eggs from wild birds’ nests.
• Make your own bird sanctuary.
You can encourage birds to visit your garden by putting out a shallow tray of water for them to drink and bathe in. For food, try putting out orange peels and some nuts from a local tree.
• Try to learn more about wildlife in Oman. Visit the Natural History Museum. Read books on Oman’s wildlife such as “Butterflies of Oman”, “Wildlife of Oman” and “The Birds of Oman”.
• Avoid frightening turtles coming ashore on beaches.Do not use flashlights at beaches where turtles nest. Baby turtles are confused by lights and wander inland instead of going to the sea.
• Avoid disturbing turtles when they are laying their eggs. Once onshore turtles are easily disturbed and may return to the sea without laying any eggs. Do not take any turtle eggs!
• Do not leave litter or drive on beaches. If cars drive on turtle beaches they may crush eggs that have been buried below and will compact the soft sand, making it difficult for turtles to nest. Litter on turtle beaches can make it difficult for baby turtles to reach the surface.
• Try to visit Ras al Hadd. Ras al Hadd is visited by hundreds of turtles and is a great place to watch turtles. Permits must be obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs. Follow the strict guidelines which can be obtained by wardens at Ra’s al Hadd when watching the turtles.
• Avoid damaging coral and do not collect pieces of coral. Collecting coral is prohibited by law in Oman! Ensure that you do not anchor boats on coral reefs as they are easily damaged.
• Learn more about Oman’s marine life. Visit the Marine Science and Fisheries Center (between Sidab and Al Bustan village). The Center has a small aquarium with many fish species found in the waters of Oman.
For both Haitham and Koshy, to help with global efforts for conservation, one doesn’t need to make grand efforts. They both advocate that leaving wild animals alone in their environment is one way to be supportive while volunteering would guarantee that they are protected.