Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
The Shaumari Reserve was created in 1975 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature as a breeding centre for endangered or locally extinct wildlife. Today, following breeding programmes with some of the world's leading wildlife parks and zoos, this small, 22-square-kilometre reserve is a thriving protected environment for some of the most rare species of animals in the Middle East. Oryx (below), ostriches, onagers (an Asian wild ass) and gazelles, which are depicted on many local 6th century Byzantine mosaics, are rebuilding their populations and reasserting their presence in this safe haven, protected from hunting and habitat destruction that nearly wiped them out.
The Oryx and onagers can often be seen roaming freely in their large desert grassland enclosure, and the ostriches and gazelles can be observed in their own fenced areas.
The Shaumari area once contained an abundance of large animals, including gazelles, oryx, onager, ostrich, cheetah, hyena and wolf. While most of these animals have disappeared from Shaumari altogether, some are now a part of the pioneering wildlife reintroduction programme.