Saudi Arabia releases more than 1,500 endangered animals in AlUla
More than 1,500 endangered animals will be released in AlUla as part of the Royal Commission for AlUla’s mission to reintroduce native species into their natural habitats.
The animals will be released across three of AlUla’s nature reserves: Sharaan, Wadi Nakhlah and Al-Gharameel.
This winter five-phase release includes about 650 Arabian gazelles, 550 sand gazelles, 280 Arabian oryx and 100 Nubian ibex. The first phase, on Jan. 10, saw the release of about 80 animals. The species were sourced from respected conservation facilities in the Kingdom and UAE.
Stephen Browne, wildlife and natural heritage executive director of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “We are a growing player in conservation through biodiversity initiatives including species reintroduction, habitat restoration, protected area management and Arabian leopard conservation. RCU’s conservation and restoration initiatives are successfully moving forward in the revitalization of AlUla’s natural habitat — and one day we will reintroduce the Arabian leopard back to the wilds of AlUla.”
The reintroduction of the Arabian leopard, an apex predator classed as critically endangered, would serve as a capstone on the regeneration of the reserve. The reintroduction is targeted for 2030.
Monitoring of the newly released animals will be carried out with SMART software analysis tools, camera trapping and satellite tracking collars. It is the first time that the lightweight, solar-powered collars will be used for ungulate species in the region. RCU has conducted extensive genetic and physical screening of the animals to ensure their fitness for release into the wild.
The new release is by far the largest since RCU’s reintroduction program began in 2019. Animal reintroduction enriches RCU’s ambitious plan to activate six nature reserves while regenerating AlUla as a leading global destination for cultural and natural heritage.