Arabian Oryx Sanctuary

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/654/

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary is an area within the Central Desert and Coastal Hills biogeographical regions of Oman. Seasonal fogs and dews support a unique desert ecosystem whose diverse flora includes several endemic plants. Its rare fauna includes the first free-ranging herd of Arabian oryx since the global extinction of the species in the wild in 1972 and its reintroduction here in 1982. The only wild breeding sites in Arabia of the endangered houbara bustard, a species of wader, are also to be found, as well as Nubian ibex, Arabian wolves, honey badgers, caracals and the largest wild population of Arabian gazelle.

The World Heritage Committee deleted the property because of Oman’s decision to reduce the size of the protected area by 90%, in contravention of the Operational Guidelines of the Convention. This was seen by the Committee as destroying the outstanding universal value of the site which was inscribed in 1994.

In 1996, the population of the Arabian Oryx in the site, was at 450 but it has since dwindled to 65 with only about four breeding pairs making its future viability uncertain. This decline is due to poaching and habitat degradation.

After extensive consultation with the State Party, the Committee felt that the unilateral reduction in the size of the Sanctuary and plans to proceed with hydrocarbon prospection would destroy the value and integrity of the property, which is also home to other endangered species including, the Arabian Gazelle and houbara bustard.

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