About the sculpture :
The Arabian Oryx sculpture, located in Umm Al Emarat Park, was gifted by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, on the occasion of Mother’s Day. The sculptures, dubbed The Jewels of Abu Dhabi showcase Abu Dhabi’s rich natural heritage.
About the artist :
Gill Parker is a leader in the field of equine and wildlife sculptures, with many major commissions to her name. Her sculptures are eagerly sought by art collectors around the world and are in many public, private and royal collections. Gill was commissioned by EAD to create some of Abu Dhabi’s iconic species; the Hawksbill Turtle, Arabian Oryx, Dugong, Saker Falcon and Greater Flamingo sculptures. In doing so, she worked with and mentored a UAE artist, Azza Al Qubaisi, so that she may explore new techniques and bring these to her works in the UAE.
About the species :
The Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) is a medium-sized mammal weighing up to 80kg. Their coloration is white with darker facial and leg markings. Their horns are very long and straight or slightly curved with male horns thicker and shorter than those of females. They have broad hoofs which facilitate their movement on soft sand.
Fun Facts :
1. The Arabian Oryx can detect rainfall and fresh plant growth from up to 90 km away.
2. The Arabian Oryx can stand and walk just one hour after being born.
3. The Arabian Oryx has a unique circulation system in its head to help it stay cool.
4. In 2011, the Arabian Oryx became the first animal to improve to a “Vulnerable” status after previously being listed as “Extinct in the Wild” on the IUCN red list of Threatened Species.
The Arabian Oryx is endemic to Arabia and roamed through the Arabian Peninsula; from Sinai, Jordan and Iraq. In the UAE they were once abundant in the western regions. The last free-ranging individuals were hunted or caught for captive breeding purposes during the early 1970’s. The UAE is now home to the largest population of Arabian Oryx, some 6000 individuals.
The Arabian Oryx travels vast distances to obtain their nutritional requirements, foraging at night and early morning. During the heat of the day, they lie up in shady places often scraping a shallow depression to lie in. They are social animals and herds of up to 100 used to be common.
Males form harems during mating seasons and sparring contests between males are often observed. Females give birth to a single calf once a year depending on environmental conditions with a gestation period of 7 to 8 months; births usually occur between the months of May and December. Calves are weaned after three and a half months of age.
The Arabian Oryx are water independent; they hydrate by eating grass and plants with high water content and by feeding at a time when water from fog and dew are plentiful. They have been known to go without water for nine months or more.
In the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian Oryx were traditionally hunted for their meat and hides. The species became extinct in the wild in the early 1970s. During the 1990s, herds were successfully reintroduced in the area. However, poaching has become a serious threat once again and has devastated some populations in the Peninsula.
The Arabian Oryx is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE, launched a successful conservation programme of Arabian Oryx in Al Ain in 1968. Following the footsteps of his father, The Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme started in 2007.
EAD hosts the General Secretariat for the Conservation of the Arabian Oryx (GCCAO) which comprises of many member states including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The key mission of the GCCAO is to support initiatives to protect and conserve the Arabian Oryx, to agree on regional criteria and standards, and to coordinate efforts between a range of states.
For over 20 years, EAD has been undertaking research and conservations efforts to preserve our terrestrial species and their habitats:
To know more about EAD’s Terrestrial Conservation efforts
To know more about EAD’s Terrestrial Protected areas