First Arabian Caracal sighted in Al Ain for 35 years

Sand-coloured cat with elongated, tufted black ears was seen on Jebel Hafeet National Park in Al Ain earlier this month
First Arabian Caracal sighted in Al Ain for 35 years
EAD was able to obtain both day-time and night-time photographic records of a male caracal.
By Sam Bridge
Sat 23 Feb 2019 11:21 AM

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), the environmental regulator, has recorded the first sighting of the Arabian Caracal (Caracal schmitzi) in 35 years.

The sand-coloured cat with characteristically elongated, tufted black ears was seen on Jebel Hafeet National Park in Al Ain earlier this month.

It was last seen in Abu Dhabi in 1984, state news agency WAM reported on Saturdday.

Footage of the caracal, called Al Washaq in Arabic, was captured on a remote camera from a network of over 45 cameras operated by EAD as part of its long-term monitoring programme of threatened species across Abu Dhabi.

EAD was able to obtain both day-time and night-time photographic records of a male caracal, WAM said.

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, acting secretary-general at EAD, said: "The rediscovery of the Arabian Caracal in Abu Dhabi highlights not only the importance of the preservation of vital habitats in the emirate, but also sheds light on the advanced research tools and methods we apply to learn more about our environment and all that it encompasses."

While the caracal is widely distributed throughout the region - typically in mountainous areas - individuals present on the Arabian Peninsula are becoming increasingly rare due to illegal hunting and habitat destruction.

Given the lack of any previous records of the species in the recent past, it was even considered "extinct in the wild", WAM added.

EAD said it will intensify its monitoring to determine the population size of the caracal in the area.

The only mountain in Abu Dhabi, Jebel Hafeet is home to diverse local flora and fauna due to its high elevation.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.