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Biodiversity in the UAE
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The UAE has 49 terrestrial and marine protected areas, including eight in Dubai. Accounting for over 18% of the country’s land territory and 12% of its marine and coastal territory, these protected areas are often natural reserves which include all the major ecosystems found in the region: mountain, desert, coastal and marine.
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Andrew Gardner, associate director of Biodiversity Conservation at Emirates Nature-WWF, says wildlife conservation is recognized as an “important responsibility and obligation by the UAE.” For example, the country is a signatory to multiple international conservation conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, and has helped reintroduce animals such as the Arabian oryx to the Arabian Peninsula. According to Gardner, there are now over 1,600 oryx in two of the UAE’s protected areas, and thousands more in zoos across the region.

However, rapid development and population growth across the Emirates mean that “53% of bird species, 46.7% of mammal species, 19% of reptile species, and 8% of plant species” are endangered, according to a government report.
Gardner says the Arabian wolf and striped hyena have both gone extinct from the UAE in recent decades, and a small population of Arabian leopards that lived the Hajar Mountains until the mid-1990s are now also believed to be extinct.

Karingattil points to habitat loss, climate change and overfishing as some of the major threats facing wildlife in the UAE, but one issue he thinks people should take more action against is plastic pollution.

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