Wadi Wurayah is a 12,700-hectare ward (31,000-acre) between the towns of Masafi, Khor Fakkan and Bidiyah in the United Arab Emirates. Chosen as Ramsar Wetland of Foreign Importance.
On March 16, 2009, Wadi Wurayah became the first protected area in the United Arab Emirates, following a three-year campaign by the Emirates Wildlife Society in the Association with World Wide Fund for Nature, [with the help of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited. In addition to the area’s critical conservation, the EWS-WWF has also set up camera traps to capture wildlife that is no longer readily available and has organized student tours to help raise awareness of the area.
Flowers and animals
Wadi Wurayah is home to more than 100 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, and more than 300 plant species. It is famous for its magnificent waterfalls set in the middle of the Hajar Mountains. It has streams and lakes full of rocks. It is one of the few places left in the world where the endangered Arabian tahr still roams free. Conservationists believe it was one of the endangered species in the UAE where the Arabian tiger survives, never seen in the UAE since 1995. Leopard footprints have been found here. The same is true of a caracal. The ward is also home to the Garra barreimiae, a species of freshwater fish that lives exclusively in the Al Hajar mountains. Among the 208 species of plants is the unique wild orchid species, Epipactis veratrifolia. In 2018, a built-in Indian porcupine was spotted here.
In January 2020, a few Indian fritillaries (Argynnis hyperbius) were found in the park by Binish Roobas, an Indian naturalist based in the UAE, who managed to photograph a man and a woman. He was visiting the area to explore biodiversity, after heavy rains in the country from October 2019 to January 2020, with park ranger Sami Ullah Majeed, biologist Nuri Asmita, and Dubai Natural History Group Chairman, Gary Feulner. It is thought that the fritillaries, found flying with members of the same species, the tiger (Danaus Chrysippus), came here as opportunistic migrants, because of the favorable conditions created by the rain, and that they would not survive the summer.
Located in the Emirate of Fujairah, a biodiversity reserve with an arid climate is part of the Hajar Mountains. The site is rich in wildlife and flowers on the Arabian Peninsula. It is one of the last places in the Emirati where traditional farming methods are kept.
The main terrain of the reserve is an indication of the Hajar mountains and includes mountain ranges, ward systems, and alluvial plains. The geographical feature has created a unique hydrogeological system that allows running water to emerge as springs where it connects between the immovable and inbound layers of many wadis regions. All nine of the freshwater species that live here, ranging from swamps and streams to waterfalls, are fed in the spring by the flow of water alternating between land and surface. The mountains represent the Hajar Mountains in their desert targets and dry out of the ground due to high erosion rates and form small spraying of native trees and shrubs. Having said this they provided a suitable type of habitat for Arabian leopards and the Arabian Tahr which was last seen in the wild in the area. The ward systems on the other hand are more green and where there are permanent water supply streams of full green grass in this barren dry area. Most biodiversity is found in these insects as they not only provide water and food for the animals, but also the corridors through which they roam the area. Invasive plains are places where certain sediments are found that allow other plants to grow, and after the winter rains, they become food grazing as the grass covers these areas sometimes overnight.
The only record of the UAE’s Bloody Darter dragonfly (Crocothemis sanguinolenta) takes place in the park. The main flowers include the orchid (Epipactis veratrifolia) and swamp species such as typha. Other species include Garra barreimiae, Bar-tailed Semaphore Gecko (Pristurus celerrimus), Rock Semaphore Gecko (Pristurus rupestris’), Omani Carpet Viper (Echis omanensis), Blue -tailed Lizard, (Omanosaura cyanura), Arabian Toad (Bufo arabicus) Arabia Tahr (Arabitragus jayakari), Caracal (Caracal caracal schmitz) and Blanford’s Fox (Vulpes cana). A total of 74 terrestrial families have been identified as Odonata (dragonflies), Coleoptera (beetles), Hemiptera (bugs), Odonata (dragonflies), Trichoptera (caddisflies), Platyhelminthes (flatworms), Nematode (wormids) (segmented worms), (molluscs).
Social and economic characteristics
The population of the area is estimated at 9100 people living as permanent residents, while the average annual visitor is estimated at 51000. The population of the local community consists of the Emiratis, South Asia, the Arabs, and the minority of the countries of Southeast Asia. The people of this area depend on the activities of the public sector and many own farms and are involved in fishing activities. As mentioned, the area around the BR also has a large number of immigrants working as skilled workers (blue collar and white collar), technical support, farmers, fishermen, and domestic workers working in the public or private sectors. Major economic activities include agriculture, fishing, small manual labor, and commercial activities.