Dubai Municipality is currently trying to identify bird species that have made Al Marmoum Reserve a breeding zone. Image Credit: Dubai Municipality

Dubai: Visitors to Dubai’s Al Marmoum Desert Conservation Reserve, where the popular Al Qudra Lakes are also located, will be issued guidelines not to endanger different bird species frequenting the area, Dubai Municipality said on Sunday.

The civic body said in a press release that it is currently studying birds that breed in the reserve to identify breeding species and the important breeding areas in the reserve to nest and protect them during the breeding season.

“We also want to provide necessary guidance to the visitors and create awareness among them about the site, which is a protected nature reserve that provides a fertile and safe environment for wildlife,” said Alia Al Harmoudi, director of Environment Department in Dubai Municipality.

“In spite of high temperature and burning sand, the summer season is an exceptional season for breeding birds throughout the Dubai emirate and in Al Marmoum Desert Conservation Reserve in particular, which has gained its importance with its diverse natural environments and vast expansion to be the largest non-fenced natural reserve in the UAE,” she said.

Al Harmoudi said the reserve provides natural refuge, safe for multiple species, especially during the breeding season, which is an important stage in the proliferation and survival of the species and prosperity to ensure continuity and conservation from extinction, especially birds that breed and build their nests on the ground because they face many risks either natural or anthropogenic.

Aisha Al Murr Al Muhairi, head of Natural Resources Protection Section, said that the species of birds that breed in the reserve that are increasing annually include wading water birds, passerines, terrestrial birds and water birds.

She said this reflects the success of the plans and site development to suit both the conservation programmes and sustainable tourism so nature-lovers can enjoy their visit without compromising the natural balance; and develop awareness programmes by involving the public in the conservation and cleaning processes and introduce them to the importance of biological diversity.

“Despite the high ability of birds to camouflage with the local environment and hide their nests in places that are difficult to find or to lay eggs with the same colour of the surrounding environment and soil, natural predators also have the skill to detect nest sites in addition to easily access to the nests, compared to the birds that build their nests on trees.

“Due to this, several species, such as lapwings, ducks, geese, and stilts lay their eggs on the islands inside the lakes in order to avoid the threats and reduce the risk of predation by predators such as foxes, cats, dogs and mice, but predating birds can overcome the trick,” she explained.

Al Muhairi said that as the percentage of the visitors who come to Al Marmoum Reserve to enjoy the beauty of the natural views of the lakes, sand dunes, and colourful birds increased, the incidents of disturbance and threats have also increased due to the mischief resorted to by some desert visitors.

She said off-road driving causes the greatest threat to birds nesting on the ground as cars driven at speed and without caution crush their eggs and young birds.

“In addition to that, the visitors swimming in the lakes and the balloons, which are left by children in the water, as well as the dogs that chase the birds on the shores of lakes, which are the same areas used by young birds for feeding after hatching and also [noisy] visitors are considered disturbances to these birds,” she said.

“Among the most important species that are currently being protected is Houbara Bustard, which are increasing annually due to the protection and conservation programmes of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai … His continuous instructions for providing favourable conditions for birds for breeding and stability gives motivation and inspiration to do more to protect endangered species and native birds,” she added.