RSCN celebrates World Wildlife Day

(Photo: RSCN)
AMMAN — It is World Wildlife Day, and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) is hard at work tending to and celebrating the Kingdom’s wildlife as a major part of Jordan’s natural, national and human heritage.اضافة اعلان

Despite its small geographic area, Jordan boasts a rich environmental diversity, with varying elevations, temperatures, rainfall, and other physical characteristics contributing to a unique topographical and biological diversity. The Kingdom spans four distinct biogographical regions: the Mediterranean, the Irano-Turanian, the Sudanese or Tropical Penetration and the Sahara-Arabia.

RSCN’s General Manager Fadi Al-Nasser said that despite the fact that Jordan is not a vast country, it encompasses a rich diversity of habitats and bioclimatic regions which are the home of many wild plant and animal species.

Plant studies researcher Bilal Aysrah says that the diversity of regions and climates within a small area has helped to sustain Jordan’s rich biodiversity, with over 2500 plant species spanning 13 vegetation types distributed throughout the country.

Field studies Coordinator Thabit Sharaa said that such a unique diversity of regions in Jordan is the reason Jordan is home to such a variety of animal species including predators, rodents, reptiles and other animals.

He explained that 82 mammal species have been recorded in Jordan, classified into 24 families divided as follows: five species of insect-eaters traced to two families; 26 bat species traced to nine families; 16 predators traced to five families; hoofed mammals, hyraxes, and one species of wild rabbit all traced to one family; and 28 species of rodent traced to seven families.

In general, Jordan’s wild mammals continues to be exposed to numerous human threats and practices which have led to a decrease in populations across the board, as well as the total extinction of some species which historically inhabited the Kingdom’s environments, including the Arabian leopard, Syrian brown bear, Arabian or Syrian ostrich, mountain gazelle, and the Persian fallow deer.

On a more positive note, the resettlement of a number of wild animal species has been carried out through the breeding programs of the RSCN, including the Arabian oryx, European fallow deer, and the Syrian wild ass.

 99 species of reptiles have been recorded during studies and research carried out by RSCN research teams in Jordan, and the country is also home to several species of  amphibians, including frogs, toads and salamanders. Two species, the Syrian salamander and frog, have become extinct, and the existing amphibian community in Jordan is at significant risk because of habitat destruction and human practices in and around the habitats in which these species are present.

Database specialist Ansam Ghlelat noted that the RSCN has established the Biological Information Management System (BIMS), which compiles and organizes data for animal and plant samples. The BIMS collects data for animal and plant samples in one place, effectively organizing and making it freely available so that academics, interested individuals and decision makers in Jordan and around the world can benefit from the data.

She added that all of the data samples on Jordan’s plant and animal life have been documented according to the Linnaeus system of scientific classification, along with a generic description of each species and references and spatial distribution information which may be of interest to academics. An updated distribution map for each species will soon be added. The database also includes reports from RSCN’s Biodiversity Monitoring Centre, which has worked for many years to monitor biodiversity in Jordan, reduce biodiversity knowledge gaps and keep the BIMS database updated.

Geographic Information Systems Specialist Lea Majed said that the Geographic Information Systems team at the RSCN is working to collate spatial information and use it to build digital models of changes in biodiversity values, as well as to assist policy makers in making decisions about land usage based on solid scientific information. The team is also working to update Jordan’s protected area geographical databases and prepare maps of environmental surveys.

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