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Tue 21 Nov 2017 02:56 PM

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First Arabian Eagle Owl discovered in the UAE

Emirates Wildlife Society announces sighting in the Hajar Mountains in the Eastern Region

First Arabian Eagle Owl discovered in the UAE
(Photo: WAM)

The Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF) has confirmed the discovery of a previously unsighted owl species in the UAE.

The Arabian Eagle Owl is currently inhabiting the Hajar Mountains in the Eastern Region, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday.

Discovered during an owl survey conducted by Anthony Stoquert, a scientist from EWS-WWF’s Terrestrial Conservation Programme, the sighting of the Arabian Eagle Owl is particularly significant, it said.

Jacky Judas, manager and scientific advisor – Terrestrial Biodiversity, EWS-WWF, said: "This recent finding has been quite exciting for the EWS team, as it is undoubtedly just one of many undiscovered species that call the UAE home.

"In spite of a hot and arid climate, a wide variety of resilient and fascinating species, thrive in our deserts and mountain areas not only species resident in the Arabian Peninsula, but also wintering or migrant species on their way between Asia and Africa. Unfortunately, the rapid pace of development has become a major threat to many of these creatures."

He added: "If a large bird, 45cm in height, weighing 600 to 800g even if nocturnal and elusive, went unnoticed up to the beginning of the 21st century, what about much smaller species of animals and plants, or under-surveyed taxonomic groups? We have very little doubt that so much more is still to be found in the Hajar Mountains."

In 2015, the discovery of a single singing individual of Omani Owl in Wadi Wurayah National Park inspired EWS-WWF to organise a more comprehensive owl survey in the Hajar Mountains of the UAE and Oman.

The survey is funded by the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

The Arabian Eagle Owl typically inhabits different parts of Dhofar, Oman, but few scattered records also attest its presence in the Hajar Mountains of Oman. It is also found in Yemen and in the Asir Mountains of Saudi Arabia.

Its diet in Africa is composed of large insects, small mammals, birds and reptiles.

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