Dubai: Dubai and the UAE have been credited in the international press for making animal conservation a government priority at a time when biodiversity is under threat.

An article by Euro News retweeted by the Dubai Media Office official twitter feed on Thursday said that as many as one million species are under threat worldwide, according to a United Nations report published earlier this year.

Despite this, Dubai and the UAE was doing all it could to promote conservation, said the Euro News article.

“On a visit to the desert, you might expect to find camels or antelope, maybe some hawks. But Dubai’s Al Marmoom animal sanctuary is teeming with biodiversity with hundreds of different species of birds, mammals, and reptiles,” read the article by Judith Prescott of Euro News.

“The sanctuary covers 20 per cent of the whole area of Dubai. In the beginning, it was a desert populated by native animals, but as the sanctuary expanded to more than 50 oases, it was discovered these water bodies could control the environmental balance.

“The sanctuary has even managed to attract the Arabian oryx. This animal was declared extinct in the wild in 1972, but has now been brought back from the brink by the reserve,” Prescott added.

Prescott spoke to Saoud Faisal, a wildlife officer at the Al Marmoom sanctuary, who said that in the 1980s and 1990s, oryx were overhunted, but now they are a thriving part of the ecosystem.

“They are totally protected now and also they are healthy,” Faisal told Prescott. “We have them in large numbers which last year reached more than 500.”

The article went on to praise UAE laws introduced in 2007, that cover animal welfare.

Although only garnering awareness from 2016, it said the laws also applied to rare and exotic animals, some of which now reside in the Green Planet in City Walk, Dubai, which replicates a tropical environment within an indoor sanctuary located in the heart of the desert city.

Along with a range of birds, sloths and lizards, the sanctuary is also home to a male Slow Loris named ‘Lonely’ by staff.

The critically endangered animal didn’t stay lonely for long however, as a couple of months later a female Slow Loris was also rescued in Dubai. There is now hope that the two will mate and produce offspring in the near future.