By Hiba al Busaidya — The Arabian gazelle is an elusive animal which was hunted to near extinction in the Arabian Peninsula. Very often due to its colour and shape matching to the surroundings makes it difficult to see. Gazelle is derived from the Arabic term gazal. Arabian literature and poetry have used gazelle’s in many of its works appreciating its grace and beauty.
Wild animals play a vital role in the environmental balance and provide the needs of the human beings. Oman has the natural environment for many wild animals such as deer (gazelle), oryx, Ibex and the wolf. In addition, the Arabian gazelle can be found along the Arabian Peninsula, in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. It is highly adapted to live in harsh desert environments and can go without water for long periods of time, living only on succulent plants and dew drops.
Gazelle is the most active and beautiful animal which is characterised by agility and fitness. Some of them live in the remote mountain valleys and the desert sand. The Ghaf and Seder trees are the main source of nutrition and sometimes it feeds on little plants such as grasses, herbs and shrubs.
The Sultanate of Oman always gives importance to the protection of environment and takes all possible care to protect its wildlife. There are many wild sanctuaries to protect animals like gazelle, oryx and Arabian leopard in the Sultanate monitoring wildlife to enhance the level of protection of these species.
Arabs gave Arabian gazelle beautiful names including Reem, Rasha, thabyah and others. They wrote beautiful poetry and proverbs about it. Furthermore, the Arabian gazelle is the most beautiful antelope which is characterised by its elegance and attractive legs and graceful body. The mature female gazelle weighs between 10 and 15 kgs. It lives alone or in small herds of 3-8 animals, and can reach running speeds of up to 65 km per hour.
Arabian gazelle are classified according to the proper colours and their location. There are three types of gazelles found in Oman. Alreem or “sand gazelle” is the pure white antelope found in sandy areas; the Al’far is a white red gazelle which has a weaker body and inhabits the highlands and solid ground. The third class is Ala’dm named “mountain gazelle”, which is characterised by large size, long dark hair and has a long neck and legs.
Gazelles are located in the Al Wusta, coastal plains and the northern slopes of Samhan Mountain. Male and female are almost same in terms of size, shape and colour but there is a distinct difference in the from of horns. For the male the horn is thick and curved while it is thinner and straighter for females.
The government has given special attention to the protection of wild animals by providing good and appropriate environments. The government provides the nature reserve to conserve the biological diversity and preserve the natural resources from exploitation and extinction as a result of natural changes and development.
The Al Saleel National Park located in the Wilayat of Al Kamil W’al Wafi in Sharqiyah Governorate. Al Saleel reserve has a wide area of plain environment covered by Samar and Ghaf trees that make it a very good environment for some types of medium-sized mammals in the Sultanate especially Arabian gazelle. It includes about 60 Arabian gazelles. Also, the Arabian gazelle is classified as Conservation Dependent by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
— Pictures by Oman light team