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Volume 7 Issue 2 of WME Newsletter is now available for Download
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Wild Life Middle East

Some Issues Affecting Wildlife In The Middle East

There are great pressures on the environment and wildlife throughout the Middle East. The rapid pace of economic development, the fragility of the natural ecosystems and low population densities are factors making many indigenous species vulnerable to extinction. The expansion of human populations and the increasing contact between domestic and wild animals has also increased disease transmission between wild and domestic species, including humans. Some governments have recognized the need to tackle these conservation issues and over the last 10-15 years a number of projects working with both captive and free-living wildlife have been established in the region. In addition to these publicly funded projects there are many privately funded zoological collections, large commercial breeding projects for falcons and houbara bustards and an ever-increasing number of ‘exotic’ animals kept as pets by the rapidly expanding population of the region.

The Middle East also has great importance as a migration route and wintering area for a large proportion of northern Palearctic birds. In this sensitive area, habitat degradation, oil spills, pesticide use, and infectious disease outbreaks have the potential to cause immense impacts on free-living and captive wildlife populations. In some cases wildlife species, e.g. waterfowl, may carry diseases such as the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus that can cause great economic impact to domestic poultry industries, cause disease in other birds such as falcons, as well as being highly dangerous to humans. There are a number of factors that hinder the ability of the veterinarians, biologists and wildlife managers working in the region to improve the care and husbandry of the species that they look after. Some of these factors include:

  • No easily available sources of practical and relevant information on the husbandry, capture and handling techniques, preventive medicine and nutrition for many species.
  • Little information available that is relevant to the region.
  • Poor communication and interaction between organizations and personnel such as wildlife managers and veterinary professionals working in the region.
  • Insufficient regional training opportunities for veterinarians and wildlife managers who are often working in isolated situations in a specialist field.
  • Poor awareness of wildlife management and health issues by regional government departments and agencies charged with the management of reserves and captive collections.
  • No central contact point for advice, references, recruitment, equipment and food sourcing.

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