The conservation team of Dubai Safari has so far recorded 175 species of birds from Al Qudra Lake in Bab Al Shams desert in Dubai. The team, headed by Dr Reza Khan, Principal Wildlife Specialist in Dubai Safari, which comes under Dubai Municipality, carried out the recording during the period extending from 2008 up to August 2016. 

Dr Khan said it is the highest number of birds recorded so far from this lake and its environs extending up to a 3km radius that also include several man-made oases created by the Engineer’s Office of His Highness the Ruler of Dubai and a few small plots of natural reserves. 

“The team has sighted 171 species and four species of birds have been recorded from the lake area by other birdwatchers that have been posted on www.uaebirding.com - a website where almost all bird sightings in the UAE are reported by various birders in the UAE and abroad. So, far 204 species have been noted from the whole of Bab Al Shams and Saih Al Salam desert area by all birders in the UAE,” said Dr Khan. 

In addition to 171 species of birds, Dr Khan and his team also noted 73 species of plants, 26 species of reptiles and 12 species of mammals. The number of species of insects and other invertebrates are yet to be assessed.

Of the birds, the Lappet-faced Vulture and Steppe Eagle are endangered species as per the Red List of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Asian Houbara, Marbled Teal, Greater Spotted Eagle and Eastern Imperial Eagle come under the Vulnerable List whereas Pallid Harrier, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and  Bar-tailed Godwit are Near-Threatened.

IUCN wants all species under the Red List categories of Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable to be considered under the Conservation-dependent category of Threatened species that have highest chances of extinction risk. IUCN expects countries having such species to provide proper protection and give management support so that their conservation status does not go down further. 

Among the ten Threatened and Near-Threatened species, His Highness the Ruler of Dubai has given directives to reintroduce and manage the Houbara populations in certain parts of the Bab Al Shams desert. It is heartening to note that Houbara is now successfully breeding in the protected areas within Bab Al Shams and a few of them occasionally visit the Al Qudra Lake environs. The remaining 165 species of birds fall under the IUCN broad category of Least Concern. 

Of the 12 species of mammals, most notable are the Arabian Oryx that has started breeding in the area for a decade now. On the other hand, over 100 Arabian Mountain Gazelles and nearly 50 Reem or Sand Gazelles visit the lake area for food, water and shelter. Notable among the reptiles are the Wurral or Desert Monitor, few lizards, snakes and skinks.