Unicorns to return to Jordan’s Wadi Rhum

You gotta love the Jordanians’ use of diplomatic language.

“Some animals died: either they fell over heights, or simply due to the difference between Wadi Rum and Shomari environment and climate,” explains Jamal Zaidaneen, head of the Nature Conservation Department at Wadi Rum Nature Reserve. He is explaining what happened to the 10 Arabian oryx that were once brought to Wadi Rhum from the Shomari Wildlife Reserve near Azraq in the north of Jordan.

Ha ha ha ha ha

حا حا حا حا حا

I can tell you what happened. My bedouin buddies in Rhum, the ones who try to make a living taking tourists around, shot the oryx for sport while they were out roaming around the desert with their Landrovers and their guns. The locals in Shomari would do the same thing if the oryx weren’t fenced in.

The Arabian oryx–translated in the Bible as “unicorn”–is extinct in the wild, but a few still survive in captivity. Now Wadi Rhum, in the south of Jordan, is about to receive 40 more Arabian oryx.

Why shoot the oryx? Shrug. Aren’t they protected by law? If the Jordanian government comes around and tries to stop us, they will get killed too. They know not to mess with us. But they’re almost extinct. Don’t you want to save them? Shrug. Is oryx good to eat? Slowly came the answer. Yes. But I bet that particular oryx wasn’t eaten; it was killed for sport. How do you convince someone from another culture of the value of preserving an entire species? What about tourists? If you have oryx here, won’t more tourists come and you will make more money showing them around in your landrover? No answer. Hmmm.

And the new Oryx project?

The project’s first phase includes designating a 21-kilometre fenced area, where the animals will be set loose, Zaidaneen said, explaining that the herd needs first to adapt to its new environment, climate and plants.

“There is no time frame for this stage, but it is expected to extend over two to three months, during which the oryx will be given the time to adjust to their new habitat which will ensure its survival chances,” Zaidaneen added.

Ah, the uses of words. While the oryx are adjusting in their new corral, no doubt my Bedouin friends will also have a chance to adjust to the oryx. Let’s hope it happens during tourist season and that some sweet young Western women will have fascinating conversations with the bedouins (Arab women do not talk to men unless they are relatives) and that the Bedouins will come to see the survival of the oryx as a crucial part of their tourist gig. Maybe they will even pick up some environmentalist rap to impress the ladies with.

Then what happens to the oryx?

Twenty animals will be flown from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar, Zaidaneen said, adding that the environment and climate of these countries is similar to Wadi Rum, which will raise their survival chances.

These animals, which form the first and main herd, will be released early next year into the wild and will be monitored by satellites which will follow their movement and behaviour.

“Under the second phase, satellites will be installed to monitor the herd. The Arabian oryx walks around 60 kilometres daily looking for food; using this advanced technique will save us time and effort and ensure the animals’ safety,” Zaidaneen noted.

The third phase includes bringing another 40 heads, in two batches, to be also released into the Jordanian wild.

Ha ha ha ha ha

حا حا حا حا حا

Tracked by satellites! Excellent!! Let’s see the bedouins try to take out a satellite while they’re out tearing around in the desert with their Landrovers and their guns and their cellphones.


From The Jordan Times May 1, 2008, jordantimes(DOT)com