Tuesday, 3 June 2014

New discovery amid UAE's dying ecosystem

As urbanisation consumes wildlife habitats in the UAE, one scientist has rediscovered a dragonfly thought to be extinct.

Last updated: 01 Jun 2014 12:11

Fujairah, United Arab Emirates - Dr Jacky Judas paused over a photograph from the field. The dragonfly captured by his camera was different than any other he had seen before. It was red-bodied, with a distinctive pattern of cross-veins on its lower wings.

Carefully, working from home, he checked the specimen against all known species in the region. But it was nowhere to be found. He dispatched the photo to an expert in Europe, a dragonfly specialist at the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The expert tested the image across a larger database, and it did not take long for Judas to get an answer.

The dragonfly was a species that had not been seen since 1957. It was considered extinct, and was never known to have even inhabited the area where Judas found it. "You always hope to make new discoveries … but this wasn’t expected," he says.

Judas works in the United Arab Emirates, a wealthy but geographically-small desert federation. Known best as a desert oasis of opulence, the UAE is not a country often associated with wildlife and biodiversity. But beyond the concrete jungle, rare animal and plant species are seeking refuge from rapidly deteriorating habitats.

"In Dubai, of course, there are so many people who don’t even know that there are mountains in the country. You show them a picture and they say, ‘Oh, where’s that!’" says Gary Feulner, chairman of the Dubai Natural History Group.

At one point in time, the UAE was unique in the world for its easily accessible deep desert, mangrove swamps and mountain ravines, with roads winding slowly through nature, he says. Today, in their place, are endless fences and highways. Thirty years ago, the 16 ravines, or wadis, were said to have contained large reserves of freshwater, but the land has continued to dry up and entire freshwater ecosystems have collapsed. Elsewhere, urban development has caused extensive damage.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails