Oman looks to boost ecotourism with Oryx sanctuary

The last wild Oryx was hunted by suspected poachers in 1972

Arabian Oryx Sanctuary.
Arabian Oryx Sanctuary.

In a report by sister outlet, Arabian Business, the Sultanate of Oman is looking to carve itself a new niche in ecotourism by opening up a sanctuary for the rare Arabian antelopes, the Arabian Oryx.

The Oryx, famous for its sharp horns and once extinct in the wild, was restored in numbers after being fenced off in the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary located in the Omani central desert away from the public for decades.

According to sanctuary spokesperson Hamed bin Mahmoud al-Harsousi, for years the goal was a basic one — ensure Oryx survival by “helping the animals here reproduce and multiply,” the report said.

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The sanctuary, that sprawls over 2,824 square kilometres, was opened up to visitors by the authorities last month as a bid to boost tourism as oil revenues continue to be in decline.

There were about only 100 Oryx just two decades ago but the numbers have significantly climbed to almost 750 today because of a programme to breed the species in captivity.

However, in 2007, the same sanctuary also became the first site to be ever removed from the UNESCO’s world heritage list as the government of Oman had turned most of the land over to oil drilling. But recently, due to the plunge in oil prices, the wildlife has become a priority again.

Besides the Oryx, the sanctuary houses 12 species of trees that provide a habitat for birds.

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