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- Middle East
The Desert Around Dubai is Alive With Wild Life
Introducing the Desert
The Arabian peninsula is a significant landmass in Eastern Asia. The peninsula houses a sheikhdom consisting of 9 small states who have joined together to form the United Arab Emeritus. One of the significant places in this Emeritus is Dubai. It is a mega-metropolis located on the edge of the Arabian peninsula abutting the Arabian Sea. The entire Arabian peninsula is desert land dotted by arid mountains.
This vast wilderness, where (to quote Lawrence of Arabia) the heat comes out “like a drawn sword”, blankets the Arabian Peninsula. Its indeed a hot place and the desert sand has a peculiarity that results in a temperature difference of almost 50 degrees between the night and day.
The desert is very sparsely populated and only a few nomadic tribes used to live in the vast expanse of sand close to an oasis. The vehicle for communication was the camel but times have changed and now you have the land cruiser and Sand Scooter.
One may get a feeling that this vast expanse of the desert beyond the city of Dubai is empty and devoid of wildlife. On the face of it, it looks likely but the desert is alive with a variety of wild animals and wildlife inhabit this land.
The wildlife of this area may look very sparse but it is very vibrant. Only those animals have survived in the desert who could mutate and assimilate the great heat and dry climate. This survival of this wildlife is an excellent laboratory test of Darwin's theory of evolution.
A trip into the desert dunes is something exciting and if one wants to observe the wildlife of this desert region then the period between twilight and sunset is the best because that is the time these animals come out.
Wildlife and the desert are friends only within parameters. That means that only those animals can survive which has been able to adjust to the high temperatures and scarcity of water.
The heat does inhibit wildlife but animals who have survived hundreds of years I temperature in the desert, as well as extreme heat hardy animals and they, make their presence felt once the sunsets. Most animals in the desert spend long periods in holes underground and there are many others like the sand skink and sand boa which have the peculiarity to move just below the surface of the sand. Many species come out only at night when the desert is cooler.
One species of animals that thrive in this desert scenario are the snakes and reptiles. A vast number of such species move around in the desert. These are the main animals in the desert. They consist of desert lizards and monitors. Some of them are nearly a meter long. Many other types of Lizards, snakes, also survive in the desert sands. The desert viper is the most common and it has a deadly poisonous sting. A vast number of snakes that have adapted to the heat also live in the desert and they will only come out after the sunsets.
There are many other species of snakes that are in some abundance. They are Wadi or Arabian racer, Leaf-nosed snake, Hooded Malpolon, or Arabian cobra, Sand Racer, and the camel snake.
Birds are the hardest hit by these extreme temperatures. They are animals who do not have the luxury of burrowing under the sand or stay in holes. They thus follow their instincts. Many birds migrate to colder regions during the summer but a few species have mutated and adapted to the desert. Birds that have adapted to the harsh environment are the desert eagle, long-legged buzzard, little owl and the brown necked raven. Other animals from this class that are available are the cream-colored courser and the black-crowned finch. During the winter months, these local species are joined by migratory birds from central Asia like the warbler and hauberk bustard.
The Falcon is a much-loved bird in the UAE. It is a resilient bird and survives in the hot desert. Many Arabs keep falcons as pets. They are a variant of the Arabian eagle. When I was in Dubai an Arab friend loaned me a falcon and I was able to get it photographed with the bird sitting on my army, which has to be protected from the falcon's claws with protective armor.
Mammals fare worse than birds and reptiles. High temperatures have taken a toll on them and during the last century, we have witnessed the slow extinction of many mammals. The Arabian leopard is now rarely seen. The sand cat another desert species is almost on the verge of extinction. Despite the heavy toll on mammals' life, there are some varieties of animals that have survived. Among them are species of the wolf, striped hyaena and jackal.
One animal that has adjusted to the desert is the Arabian Gazelle. Two species of Gazelle have been observed all around the desert in Dubai. The mountain Gazelle is one of them. These animals look very picturesque with the background of the dunes and the desert.
The desert has a charm of its own. Even the summer months give you an entirely different view of the world. However, the best part of the desert is when the spring rains come. With the change in climate these days, the showers have increased and this has resulted in a change in the vegetation pattern of the desert.
The desert also attract tourists in vast numbers who would like to savor the delight of the desert and the way the Beduin live in their camps and belly dancers with a stiff peg of whiskey and the setting sun