Shaumari Nature Reserve
The Shaumari Reserve was created in 1975 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature as a breeding center for endangered or locally extinct wildlife. Today, following breeding programs with some of the World's leading wildlife parks and zoos, this small, 22 square kilometer reserve is a thriving protected environment for some of the most rare species of animals in the Middle East.
Oryx, ostriches, gazelles and onagers, which are depicted on many 6th Century Byzantine mosaics, are rebuilding their populations and reasserting their presence in this safe haven, protected from hunting and habitat destruction that nearly wiped them out.
The Oryx can often be seen roaming freely in the desert grassland, and the Ostriches, Gazelles and Onagers can be observed in their enclosures. Shaumari's breeding enclosures provide a small "zoo" for visitors, making the reserve a popular spot for children and school outings.
The Shaumari area once contained an abundance of large animals, including Gazelles, Oryx, Onager, Ostrich, Cheetah, Hyena and Wolf. While most of these animals have disappeared from Shaumari altogether, some are now a part of the pioneering wildlife re-introduction program.
Shaumari's visitors' center contains a small museum holding interactive materials, slide shows, and videos on the history and wildlife of the Reserve. A playground and picnic area is located on the outside premises of the center.
The observation tower provides eager animal watchers with a perfect location for spotting the Reserve's wild life. The early hours of the morning are in particular the best for observing the Oryx in its natural environment.
|The Oryx Story:|
The Oryx, an elegant white antelope, is one of the few mammals indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. It became extinct in Jordan around the 1920s, as a result of the increased hunting for its meat, coat and horns. The increasing range and power of rifles compounded by the factor of motorized vehicles was the key to the extinction of the Oryx. The last known wild Oryx in the World was killed by hunters in Oman in 1972.
Fortunately, previous to this forfeiture, in 1962, the Flora and Fauna Preservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund had launched an international rescue effort known as Operation Oryx. A world survival herd was established in the USA, with three animals from Oman, one from the London zoo, one from Kuwait, and four from Saudi Arabia. This herd increased steadily in numbers, and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature proposed that the Oryx should be reintroduced into its native habitat in the Arabian Desert.
In 1978, eleven Oryx were relocated in Shaumari. The number of Oryx has now increased to a phenomenal two hundred! Operation Oryx has been so successful that Jordan now supplies Oryx to other countries which are conducting re-introduction programs.