Wildlife of Saudi Arabia

BBC video with Steve Backshall in the Arabian peninsula with its surprisingly rich and varied wildlife.


Trapped by fence: gazelles starve to death in Saudi Arabia (July 2010)

A fence may have been starving gazelles and other ungulates to death in Saudi Arabia. Die-offs of large numbers of globally threatened Arabian oryx and Arabian sand gazelles were recorded from 1991 to 2008 in the fenced Mahazat as-Sayd protected area in Saudi Arabia.

Wildlife in Saudi Arabia – Helen Ziegler

While in Saudi Arabia in September 2009, we went on a day road trip from coastal Jeddah up to the mountain city of Taif. In a perfect illustration of the saying, “You learn something new every day,” I learned that the escarpment outside of the city of Taif is home to a large troop of baboons. (Specifically, it’s home to baboons of the hamadryas, or “Sacred” baboon species.) I had no idea that there were wild monkeys in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia began setting aside land for protection of natural habitats, flora, and/or fauna in 1978. Currently, the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation & Development (NCWCD) manages 15 protected areas, which encompass 85,557 square kilometers.

Saudi Arabian Wildlife and Flora – a set on Flickr

Books on Saudi wildife

The Wildlife Of Saudi Arabia And Its Neighbours The essential guide

In the section on mammals, I found most interesting the striking Caracal, a cat-like creature; the Arabian Tahr, which is a wild goat; and the Oryx, which was hunted to extension on the peninsula, but thanks to collaboration with the San Diego zoo, was successfully re-introduced into the wild in the Kingdom. A plethora of birds not only live on the peninsula, but also periodically visit it, since it is on one of the principal annual migration routes between Asia and Africa. A sampling is the bee-eaters, the very rare Hume’s Tawny Owl, and the graceful Flamingos. The Socotra cormorant is endemic on the island of the same name, off the southern Yemen coast. In the third section, there are numerous lizards and poisonous snakes, and the “Bedouin delicacy,” the dhabb, a large lizard which they flush out of its underground home with water. The fourth section is prefaced with one of the best pictures in the book, of a desert locust, that could devour entire crops, causing famine, since biblical days. There are also moths, butterflies, spiders and scorpions. The author understates the danger from a scorpion sting, calling them “not really dangerous,” when in fact they can cause death, even to a healthy human. In the final section are some excellent underwater shots, taken by Dick Massey, a former King Faisal Specialist Hospital photographer. In contrast to the prior section, Massey is well aware that a stone fish can cause death within an hour if one of its needles punctures a human’s blood vessel, and their camouflage is such that sturdy sneakers are a must when walking in the shallows.

Extinct wildife of Saudi Arabia

The onager

The onager was a gregarious animal of the dry grassy plains and the Old Testament described its habitat precisely as “the steppe for his home and the salt land for his dwelling” (Job 39:6). It was found in Palestine and the countries surrounding it for over 2000 years after the events of the Old Testament, but had almost disappeared by the middle of the nineteenth century. A few lived on in Iraq and southeast Jordan until early this century, but now these are gone as well. Its speed and ability to withstand the worst conditions of the Hammad and Nafud deserts left its numbers unaffected despite the intensive hunting by successive cultures in the area. It was the coming of firearms and automobiles that tipped the scale against it.