Oct 4

Fifty-five new species of arthropod have been discovered in the protected area of Wadi Wurayah, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Of these new discoveries, 25 species are considered to be new to science, while the remainder have never before been recorded in the UAE.

Wadi Wurayah was officially declared the UAE’s first protected mountain area by His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Sharqi in 2009.

In October 2010, Wadi Wurayah officially joined the list of 1,932 wetlands around the world which are listed under the Ramsar Convention as being of international importance for the conservation of biodiversity.

Gallaghers leaf-toed gecko close-up

The Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko was also newly recorded in the UAE

Wildlife stronghold

Wadi Wurayah is considered a stronghold for the wildlife in UAE due to its habitat diversity and the presence of permanent water. It is home to rare and endangered species such as the Arabian tahr, and possibly even the Arabian leopard.

The discovery of species not previously recorded in the region, and especially the discoveries of species that are thought to be new to science, continue to highlight the importance of Wadi Wurayah, and how vital it is in protecting the region’s biodiversity.

Among the 55 new discoveries were 51 species of insect, as well as 2 species of arachnid, a terrestrial crustacean and a springtail.

Arabian leopard in rocky habitat

Arabian leopard in rocky habitat

Intensive research

Having never been recorded before in the UAE, the new species were found as a result of continued research, collaboration and verification by the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF), Fujairah Municipality and local authorities.

The majority of the findings come as part of an intensive inventory of the arthropod fauna of the UAE, which includes insects, spiders, scorpions and terrestrial crustaceans. The studies have been carried out under the patronage of Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nayan, member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi.

The results of the project have been published in a four-volume book series called ‘Arthropod fauna of the UAE’.

Arabian tahr photographed by camera trap

Arabian tahr photographed by camera trap

Conserving UAE habitats

Christophe Tourenq, senior conservation manager of EWS-WWF, said, “These discoveries highlight the importance of conserving the habitats of the UAE. The protection of the many unique life forms that reside in our natural environment is interconnected with and interdependent on the protection of these habitats. The sustainability of our lifestyle is also dependent on the health of our natural environment and the resources it provides.”

Tourenq added, “It is vital that we all do our part towards the conservation of our natural heritage. EWS-WWF calls on all UAE residents to work together and act responsibly to help support the on-going protection of the country’s habitats from degradation and loss.”

Read the WWF article.

Find out more about the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF).

Visit ARKive’s ‘Jewels of the UAE’ pages.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author