MECA to release atlas of reptiles in the sultanate

Muscat - 

In a few months, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) will come out with an atlas listing different species of reptiles in Oman. The compilation will have a list of 101 species found in the sultanate.

A culmination of 22 years of unprecedented efforts, the book also maps 22 rare species, said Saleh Naghmush Thani al Saadi, head of the biodiversity development section at MECA.

It all began in 2004, when a team of Spanish researchers visited the sultanate to study wild reptiles in cooperation with the ministry, said Saadi.

MECA

“The actual survey began in 2013 by a team comprising nine members which included three Omanis and six Spanish researchers,” said Saadi.

He added that the research was conducted in different stages. “The nine-member team started its research in the area between Musandam and Al Wusta from April to June in the first stage. The search in its second stage was conducted from Al Wusta to Dhofar (October to December).

“The team conducted its research keeping in mind when the reptiles get active and the temperature. The team successfully studied 451 species of reptiles and conducted DNA tests on 101 species such as geckos, chameleons and snakes. They also studied ten new species.”
The most important area of research was the eastern and western parts of Al Hajar mountains.

“The most important areas for the researchers were the eastern and western parts of Al Hajar mountains where they found 20 rare species,” explained Saadi.

The book is an invaluable reference material for those in the field, feels Saadi.

“The book, replete with images has been divided into two sections. Besides basic information, the book also offers statistics regarding 5,393 reptiles studied by the researchers. The second section provides information about the diverse species found in governorates such as North and South Sharqiyah, North and South Batinah, Dhofar, Al Wusta, Dhahirah, Dakhliyah and Muscat. The entries have also been classified on the basis of non-venomous and fatally-venomous reptiles.”

Collating information was not easy, said Saadi. “Some of the areas where we researched were quite inaccessible and dangerous. We also had to work at night sometimes, which made the task more difficult.”

Saadi is positive that the document once published would not just benefit further research in the field but also generate interest in eco-tourism.

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