Weapons and gazelles found by rangers in Oman. Image Credit: Courtesy: Ministry Of Environment And Climate Affairs

Muscat: Environmentalists, with the help of the Royal Oman Police, arrested six hunters from the Saih Alala area in Jalan Bani Bu Ali for killing at least ten Arabian gazelles.

“They poached these gazelles from the mountains of Wadi Khawan (about 180-km north-east of Muscat),” Ahmad Al Sibli, a spokesman for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, told Gulf News.

He said the carcasses of 10 Arabian gazelles, allegedly hunted down by the six Omanis, were found when the accused were arrested from Jalan Bani Bu Ali, about 250km east of Muscat . “The raiding team also confiscated traditional firearms used in hunting down these Arabian gazelles,” he added.

He said the raid was conducted after the rangers, with the ministry, were tipped off about the hunting activities of the six suspects in the eastern region.

The six suspects, he added, were taken into custody and legal action will be taken against them.

Al Sibli pointed out that the ministry was determined to fight any attempts by poachers to hunt in the protected areas of Oman.

In May, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs’ forest rangers caught two people who were poaching in the Al Saleel National Park in Al Kamil w’al Wafi area, about 200km east of Muscat.

In that incident, the poachers killed two adult antelopes and had also caught a calf alive but the rangers apprehended both the accused before they could harm the calf.

Conservationists believe that poachers hunt Arabia gazelle, also known as mountain gazelle, to smuggle them — dead or alive — out of Oman.

The mountain gazelle population in the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in the central Oman and the coastal areas to the eastern region is believed to be the largest in the country.

The ministry spokesman appealed to citizens as well as residents in Oman not to violate the laws on wildlife and nature reserves. The Ministry is also keen to keep the Omani environment and preserve the natural resources to develop and sustain these resources.

Oman has issued a law imposing strict penalties against those who hunt or smuggle animals or as part of a national strategy to protect its flora and fauna.

Under Omani laws poachers face penalties ranging from 1,000 (Dh9,500) to 5,000 Omani riyals and imprisonment from a minimum of six months to a maximum of five years for hunting or smuggling animals.