Two Rare Animals Snapped in Abu Dhabi

Two Rare Animals Snapped in Abu Dhabi
Two Rare Animals Snapped in Abu Dhabi

A rodent thought to be extinct in Abu Dhabi is among two animals that have been caught on camera, bringing hope that other endangered critters may also be living in the emirate, however elusively. Camera traps deployed by the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi snapped a photo of the Crested Porcupine, the rodent, and the Ruppell's Fox (Vulpes rueppellii), which was last recorded in the agency's environmental database 13 years ago, the National reported.

"This is a major find as it shows that with intensive monitoring and assessment and the use of innovative technology such as camera traps there could be new and exciting findings as the one we have just rediscovered," said Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, executive director for terrestrial and marine biodiversity sector.

The Crested Porcupine is the largest rodent in the Middle East. The animal is nocturnal and hides in burrows, making it particularly difficult to spot. While there are known populations in Saudi Arabia and Oman, in the UAE the Crested Porcupine has very few confirmed sightings.

The porcupine was thought to be technically extinct from Abu Dhabi until, in December 2017, EAD scientists found footprints and quills at a site in the Al Dhafra region. A set of camera traps were deployed at the site and, within the same month, the team captured images of the elusive species.

Ruppell's Fox, also known as Desert Fox, is one of three fox species found in the UAE. The species is considered very rare and difficult to spot in the wild. EAD's database has records of Ruppell's Fox since the early 1990s and the last confirmed sighting was recorded in 2005. Searching for new clues, EAD scientists deployed camera traps in two locations where the animal had previously been sighted. A year later, the effort paid off and one individual was seen at a location in the Western Region.

"We believe that the 're-discovery' of the fox in those areas is a good sign that the habitat is well-preserved naturally," said Pritpal Soorae, unit head at terrestrial assessment and monitoring at EAD.


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