MAKKAH: The National Center for Wildlife, in cooperation with Soudah Development, has released 23 endangered mountain ibexes in Soudah as part of a program to enrich the area’s biodiversity.
The initiative in the south of Saudi Arabia comes as part of the center’s efforts to increase the population of endangered wildlife and reintroduce them to natural habitats.
It is also part of initiatives by Soudah Development to develop vegetation and wildlife in the Soudah region and parts of Rijal Alma, which are characterized by their rich natural resources and environmental diversity.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Bouq, director general of wildlife conservation at the National Center for Wildlife Development, told Arab News that Soudah Development has its own wild land, which extends to the governorate of Rijal Alma, covering an area of more than 600 square km.
“The release took place last Monday, the culmination of this program by returning them to their natural environments,” he said. “The center coordinated with Soudah Development in order to deploy a pre-release fenced sanctuary in one of the parks, which became part of the project.”
He said that last year 15 ibexes were placed in the fenced sanctuary, where they remained for months before they were released into the wild. During that time, there were eight births.
Al-Bouq said that the ibex became endangered due to overhunting. He added that the Soudah area in Asir was a natural environment for the species.
He said that ibex feed on plants’ seeds and fruits, which contributes to the growth of vegetation cover in the region, and also their presence helps to restore balance, especially given Soudah is characterized by the density of vegetation cover such as juniper trees, katam (wild olives), and wild acacia.
Al-Bouq said that the center releases around 15 ibexes from the beginning of November to the end of March of each year.
He added that the center was keen to enter into strategic partnerships to boost biodiversity. “We will seek to further enhance these partnerships during the World Wildlife Day that will be celebrated next Sunday,” he said, adding that year’s theme would revolve around community partnerships.
The center has entered into partnerships with various entities, at the level of the ministry, the royal reserves, AlUla region reserves, and national parks, in addition to the partnership at the level of giga-projects, including the Soudah region, and a partnership at the level of environmental associations, and a fourth partnership at the level of companies.
“These partnerships stem out of our concern to qualify Saudi companies and localize the wildlife industry, its services and consultations in the Kingdom and activating it as an important part of the national economy, which is part of our mission and mission,” concluded Al-Bouq.
Mohammed Ali Qurban, the center’s CEO, said that releasing the animals would help restore the ecological balance and achieve objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to build a positive and attractive environment.
“That the number of ibexes increased to 23 is evidence of the success of this cooperation. We also managed to install tracking devices on the ibexes to be able to monitor them. Moreover, the area where the ibexes will be released is closely protected,” he said.
Soudah Development CEO Eng. Saleh Al-Oraini, said the initiative is part of Soudah Development’s commitment to environmental sustainability in the Soudah development project and parts of Rijal Alma. He said that protecting natural resources and helping the Kingdom’s native species were among the company’s top priorities.
Al-Oraini said that the release was the first step in a series of initiatives to reintroduce and protect wildlife in the area of the Soudah Development Project and parts of Rijal Alma, which will attract two million visitors throughout the year by 2030.