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Planet Earth Under Threat

Wild Arabia 2: Blood On The Sand

  • Alasdair Cross
  • 26 Aug 07, 12:51 PM

BBC Radio Four Monday 27th August 2100


The destruction of Arabia's large mammals was accomplished with startling efficiency. As soon as four-wheel drive vehicles and accurate rifles arrived in the region they were doomed. Arabian Lion, Cheetah, Wild Ass and Saudi Gazelle disappeared forever. Arabian Tahr, Arabian Oryx, Sand and Mountain Gazelle and Arabian Leopard were restricted to the highest mountains or private reserves.

In the second edition of 'Wild Arabia' Tessa McGregor hears how Arabic hunting culture, urban development and regular conflict have combined to push so much wildlife over the edge.

The real question, though, is whether the realisation of destruction has come in time to save what's left. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel is building up a formidable reputation for fighting development plans and even taking on the military. Tessa hears how SPNI recently persuaded the Israeli government to examine electronic alternatives to a 'security fence' it was building through the Judean Desert. Katri Maoz explains his worries that the fence would cut desert animals off from their rare sources of water.

Even in countries lacking democratic debate there are signs of change. Environmental organisations have persuaded Syria and the UAE of the benefits of wildlife tourism whilst the Saudi royal family increasingly views its surviving species like the Oryx as symbols of the nation.
In next week's programme Tessa meets the brave and passionate people seeking a regional solution for Middle Eastern wildlife, cutting across the political borders as nature itself does.

Listen to the programme here

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