美麗新世界 - 阿曼動物介紹Animals
保育野生動物及其棲息地對於阿曼人來說，並不是一個新的觀念 ; 他們視保育為一項使命，一個任務。而阿曼，對於這些珍奇的動物來說，是個美麗新世界。
阿拉伯塔爾羊（The Arabian Tahr）
阿曼特別的大型哺乳動物是阿拉伯塔爾羊。在一百萬年前，由於陸地的移動，塔爾羊漸被孤立而演化成獨特種類。目前阿曼境內只能在素爾（Sur）和穆珊旦（Musandam）的山區找到塔爾羊的足跡。事實上，在陸地移動前，阿拉伯塔爾羊廣佈於歐洲及亞洲 - 於英國西南方發現的，一個5億年前，已成化石的塔爾羊牙齒，就是他們曾存在最好的證明。
即使如此，當地的居民給予這些塔爾羊許多的幫助，如果沒有他們的合作，沒有任何一項保護塔爾羊的措施會成功。1970年12月，一隻公塔爾羊被發現在阿曼東北部的塞爾山（Jebel Sel） ; 1973年早期，許多塔爾羊也被發現於東部的沙琳河谷（Wadi Sareen）流域附近。塔爾羊的棲息地是被懸崖與世隔絕的，他有著自然清楚的邊界，且保育塔爾羊的觀念已漸漸被阿曼居民重視。1975年3月，世界自然保育聯盟（World Conservation Union, IUCN）指派一名顧問來研究塔爾羊及提供一些保育的建議方案。而於1979年，三個當地的家庭即進行協商，建立了一個新的塔爾羊保護區。這些努力終於1987年的再次調查中見到成果 – 調查發現塔爾羊的數量有著6%的年增加率！
海龜 - 這個行動緩慢的動物，卻有著驚人的吸引力。世界自然保育聯盟於1977年時，有一項研究指出，位於阿曼東側的馬士拉島（Masirah island）有世界上最大的赤蠵龜（loggerhead turtle）群 ; 而阿曼東北部的瑞斯阿爾漢德海灘（Ras Al Hadd）也孕育了20,000餘隻的綠蠵龜（green turtle）。值得一提的是，在瑞斯阿爾漢德海灘也可找尋到面臨滅絕危急的玳瑁（Hawksbill turtle）的足跡。事實上，阿曼境內共有5種海龜 - 綠蠵龜、玳瑁、赤蠵龜、橄蠵龜（Olive Ridley Turtle）及革龜（Leatherback Turtle），他們廣佈於阿曼沿岸海灘，被阿曼政府嚴格地保護，有專業人員負責監視並做為長期的研究。
世界上共有80種類的鯨魚及海豚存在，在阿曼海域就有20種。阿曼王國於1980年時加入了國際捕鯨委員會（International Whaling Commission），且於海洋保育上扮演了領導者的角色 - 包括了印度洋鯨魚保護區的建立。鯨魚、海豚及海龜的獵殺（包括海龜蛋的撿拾），在阿曼是被立法禁止的。
由於一群自願愛鳥者的努力，阿曼鳥類團體（Oman Bird Group）於1976年成立了。阿曼境內有440餘種鳥類，大多是隨著季節遷徙的。然而，100多種的鳥類是會在此繁殖 – 一些會居住下來，一些則是過境而已。波斑鴇（Houbara Bustard），在其他國家是一種傳統被鷹獵者捕食的一種鳥類，在阿曼是被列為保護動物的。波斑鴇成功地在阿曼居住並於冬季時與其他鳥類一同遷徙。
阿拉伯羚羊（The Arabian Oryx）
1974年，阿曼國王卡布斯（HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said）決定要讓這些羚羊返回自然，選定了阿曼中部的吉達阿爾哈拉斯（Jiddat Al Harasis）為羚羊的自然保護區，並指定區內的賈露尼（Jaaluni）為此保護區的總部。在1980年，這個特別的區域終於開始啟用，此地早晚豐富的霧氣和露水使此地成為一個獨特的生態系統，第一批的阿拉伯羚羊進駐此保護區內並自由自在地活動。兩年後，10隻羚羊終於返回野生。
阿曼政府的努力，終於被國際認可。1994年4月，此阿拉伯羚羊保護區被聯合國教科文組織（the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO）認定為世界遺產之一。
Oman joins International Whaling Commission
David Insall charts how Oman has risen to the challenge of conserving and maintaining her rich natural heritage.
The conservation of wildlife and its habitat was not a new concept to Omanis in 1970. Dependent in rural resources, the people of the Interior understood that all life in a desert environment was precious. Nothing was wasted and natural resources were respected not abused. In the northern mountains wildlife reserves existed on a wide scale, not only to enable livestock production to be sustained through the severest droughts, but also to preserve wild mammals for occasional hunting. These bamiyaat, or reserves, still exist along the Hajar range, with the grazing of domestic animals forbidden and fodder only collected by hand cutting.
Historically, in most places the cutting of green trees was forbidden. Instead, food for livestock was harvested from trees by beating the branches with long poles and catching the leaves and seed pods on a mat placed underneath. It was hard work, but ensured that food was available throughout the year. The practice can still be seen today.
The Arabian Tahr
Oman’s special large mammal is the Arabian tahr. Isolated by movement of land masses millions of years ago, it developed into a distinct species, found only in the northern mountain ranges between Sur and Musandam and nowhere were else in the world. Before the land movements there were tahrs all over Europe and Asia.: a fossilized tahr’s tooth, some 50 million years old, was found recently in southwestern England.
With the 1970s came a minor piece of new technology that threatened the tahr’s survival and caused concern among conservationists. The .22 rifle, so much lighter and quieter than the .303 rifle, allowed hunters to traverse the perilous cliffs and ledges to catch the tahr unawares: the one shot that killed it would scarcely disturb another tahr close by which would then also be shot.
In December 1970 a male tahr was seen in Jebel Sel at the southern end of Saih Dhabi, and in early 1973 more tahrs were found not far away to the east above the Wadi Sareen watershed. Enclosed by sheer precipices of the finest tahr habitat, it had natural, they defined boundaries and the concept of a tahr reserve was developed. Help was given to the local people of the area, for without their cooperation no measures to protect the tahr could succeed.
In March 1975 the first rangers were appointed with the most experienced former hunter as their leader. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) provided a consultant to study the tahr and recommend measures to conserve it. In 1979 an agreement was negotiated with three local families which created a new reserve, and for some 8km of the precipice all grazing of domestic goats ceased.
When the next survey was carried out in 1987, it was found that the tahr population gad increased by six per cent annually, an outstanding success achieved by an end to hunting and the protection of its habitat. This was a tribute to the hard work and cooperation of the local people, for no artificial measures had been necessary. It showed how the survival of a species is best secured in its own wild habitat as a cooperative venture with the people.
A remarkable bonus in the creation of the tahr reserve was the discovery in 1975 of a unique tree, the Tiyu (Ceratonia oreothauma, shown above right), new to science and found in that region and nowhere else in the world. Apart from providing food for wildlife, its young seed pods are a local delicacy.
The ranger headquarters, built by volunteers from the Royal Air Force of Oman in 1982, has a plaque bearing the Hadeeth Shareef of the Prophet Mohammed:’ He who cares for the Earth shall have the mercy of Him who is in Heaven above’, a wonderful reminder of how conservation is enshrined in the tenets of the Islamic Faith.
While Wadi Sareen held its tahr lairs, out of the reach of most men, the gentle plains below had only a small population of mountain gazelle. In an effort to increase numbers a home was provided for unwanted hand-reared gazelle, some of which had become aggressive and a danger to children in private gardens. A captive breeding herd was established to repopulate the area, where they now roam fearlessly and in the wild.
Rangers from the Diwan of Royal Court and the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment now protect large areas where gazelle live, from Fins to the Ja’alan and throughout the central desert regions, paying special attention to the rare sand gazelle or Rbeem.
These magnificent slow animals were also surprisingly quick off the mark. An IUCN study started in 1977, to guide conservation of the five species of turtle which inhabit our waters. The Island of Masirah alone has the world’s largest population of loggerhead turtles, and some 20,000 dreen turtles nest on Oman’s beaches, mostly at Ra’s Al Hadd, as well as a significant proportion of the world’s globally endangered Hawksbill turtle. Rangers guard, monitor and tag turtles as part of a long-term programme of research which may eventually unravel the mysteries of the life cycles and migrations of these fascinating reminders of pre-dinosaur era.
Whales and Dolphins
Some twenty of the world’s 80 species of whales and dolphins inhabit Oman’s waters. The Sultanate joined the International Whaling Commission in 1980 and has played a leading role in marine conservation, including the establishment of the Indian Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The hunting of whales, dolphins and turtles (including the collection of turtle eggs) was banned by Royal Decree in 1981. Research and marine management continues, following an eight year study by IUCN specialists under the Coastal Zone Management Project.
Oman has also established a Whale Rescue Team, whereby any members of the public observing a cetacean in trouble. Some heart-warming rescues of whales and dolphins, caught in fishermen’s nets and in danger of drowning, have been successfully carried out by the team who respond promptly to calls from far-flung places along our coasts.
On the Wing
The effort of a small group of volunteer bird-watchers, formed as the Oman Bird Group in 1976, have shown that Oman is a major feeding and resting ground for thousands of migratory birds which pass through the country twice a year, journeying to an from their breeding grounds in other countries.
Some 440 bird species have identified in Oman, the majority being migrants. However, more than 100 species are known to breed here, some as residents and some as visitors. The Houbara Bustard, traditional prey of falconers in other countries, is protected in Oman; it nests successfully here and joined by other winter.
The Arabian Oryx
Perhaps the best known of all Omani conservation projects has been the re-introduction of the Arabian oryx, establishing the Sultanate as a world leader among environmentally-aware nations. In 1972, even as moves were being made to save the Arabian tahr from extinction, the last herd of oryx to roam in the wild became the victim of hunters from outside Oman.
Far-sighted conservationists had feared this and in the early 1960shad established a herd which bred well in captivity, awaiting the day when the oryx’s offspring could safely return to the wild. His Majesty the Sultan decided in 1974 that Oman should offer that safe haven. After intensive study a place was chosen near where the last herd had been lost. In 1982 the gates of a special enclosure were opened and the first oryx roamed free in the wild again after a gap of 10 years.
The area re-occupied by the oryx is now within the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, established by Royal Decree in 1994. A vast and beautiful wilderness of some 34,000 sq km, it encompasses sand dunes, gravel plains limestone escarpments, desert woodlands, sandy beaches, tidal inlets and coastal cliffs. A 600 million-year-old glacial pavement, with scrape lines of the moving glaciers of 300 million years ago, remains visible from the time when Oman was part of the continent of Gondwana in the southern latitudes of the would. The fossilized remains of large fir trees from 260 million years ago tell of a time when large rivers flanked by lush vegetation flowed through the land, and marine fossils of times when it was under the sea. Still living here are Nubian ibex, wolves, caracals, wild cats and money badgers among the diverse trees and rare plants watered by extraordinary fogs and dews. Man has lived side by side with them for many thousands of years. In December 1994, as a fitting conclusion to the Year of Heritage, the sanctuary was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO).
The Challenges Ahead
Successful conservation measures need research, initially to determine priorities for conservation and secondly to understand the complex interrelationship between all the people, plants and animals present. Several major research expeditions have studied Oman. In the 1985-1986 Wahida Sands Project multi-disciplinary teams of scientists employed the full technology of modern science to unravel the mysteries of life in the dunes and their surrounding areas. A major research and planning study was carried out in the Barr Al Hikman by the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment in 1991. Many smaller teams or individual researchers, including staff of the Sultan Qaboos University, have carried out important studies throughout the country. All have contributed to the knowledge upon which conservation work is now based for everyone’s benefit.
In 1982 the Oman Natural History Museum was established by the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture, providing a focal point for study of the environment by members of the public and researchers alike. Species previously unknown in Oman or to science are still discovered quite frequently, as fields of study expand. The Omani Mammal Breeding Center, started in 1979 under the Diwan of Royal Court, provides an essential reserve of Oman’s rare wild animals.
Until now, the income to create Oman’s essential infrastructure has come from small holes in the ground in remote places with environmental impact on their surroundings. The expansion of industry to diversify the economy, sufficient good housing for a rapidly increasing population and agricultural expansion to provide greater self-sufficiency in food supplies all require land: not just any land, but land where water is available and an infrastructure has been created. The changed use of land may be at the expense of wildlife habitat of some kind. Increased domestic livestock production may impact on rare plants and wild animal habitats: it often leads to overgrazing, the spread of unpalatable invasive plant species and thus permanent damage to pastures. Therefore an accommodation has to be found to ensure that pastures are used sustainably.
Other fossil sources of wealth, involving not small holes in the ground but large areas of mining can have more serious impacts on the environment. In 1982 His Majesty wisely issued a comprehensive Royal Decree to cover environmental protection. All development projects were to be subjected to environmental scrutiny ensure that impacts were fully assessed, so that mitigation measure could be taken or projects deferred if the net effect was negative. Oman was not to become the wasteland cursed by pollution and degraded landscape that has been the fate of many other countries.
Analysts have predicted that world tourism will double over the next ten year, the fastest growing sector being wildlife tourism. The protection of natural resources and landscape with its traditional buildings can attract carefully planned tourism to bring new wealth to Oman and to local communities, as an infinitely renewable resource. If the landscape is ‘developed’ or degraded, then disappointed tourists will stay away. The Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment now coordinates the efforts of ministries private institutions and the many dedicated individuals who have devoted large parts of their lives to studying and helping to protect Oman’s wildlife.
In the field, the wildlife ranger organization has been expanded throughout the Sultanate with three main role: to enhance public awareness among rural communities, to gather wildlife information for ongoing research and to protect animals and plants against illegal destruction. Rare and endangered mammals such as the Arabian Leopard and the Gordon’s wildcat are now given high priority protection: the banning the hunting and capture of wild animals and birds was extended to cover all species in 1993.
Oman become a signatory to the Biodiversity Convention in 1994, creating an international obligation to protect the diversity of Oman’s wildlife species. Nature and scenic reserves are being implemented, covering some 21 per cent of the country’s land surface. Action plans are being drawn up to save endangered species from extinction, including one for all rare plants and one for the continued protection of Arabian tahr. Many others will follow. This backed up by an ongoing programme of lectures and seminars to promote environmental awareness throughout Oman, together with books and posters especially for young people.
Oman can look back with pride at grate achievements built on a long tradition of conservation practice. She can look forward with greater strength than ever to meet the challenges of the next 25 years. But there is no room for complacency.