Two killed Arabian Gazelle and a calf that was still alive when the poachers were apprehended. Image supplied by Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs. Image Credit: Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs

Muscat: Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs forest rangers have caught two people for poaching in Al Saleel National Park in Al Kamil W’al Wafi area, about 200km east of Muscat.

“Two citizens were caught for trespassing and poaching by the park rangers with the help of Royal Oman Police (ROP),” Dawood Bin Sulaiman Al Beloushi, spokesman for the ministry, told Gulf News.

He added that the poachers had killed two adult Arabian gazelle and had also caught a calf alive but the rangers apprehended both the accused before they could harm the calf.

According to Al Beloushi, the poachers had used traditional as well as some other light firearms in hunting down the animals. Both the accused were handed over to the Public Prosecution for further investigations before a court case against them.

Al Beloushi said that it was difficult to speculate on why they went hunting until the investigations were over. However, he agreed that there was a possibility of smuggling the Arabian gazelle – dead or alive - out of Oman.

He appealed to residents not to violate the laws on wildlife and nature reserves. The ministry is also keen to preserve the natural resources to develop and sustain these resources.

Oman has issued a new 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 to 5,000 Omani riyals (Dh9,154 to Dh47,573) and imprisonment from a minimum of six months to a maximum of five years for hunting or smuggling animals.

Al Saleel National Park is spread over an area of 220 square kilometres in the Al Kamil W’al Wafi area in the Eastern Region of Oman.

The park mainly consists of acacia woodland and provides a safe habitat for many of Oman’s indigenous mammals. There are three main areas to the park: the first is the alluvial plain covered in acacias; the second consists of the wadis (gorges) in the mountains and the third is the sparsely vegetated hills and rocky outcrops which form the northern boundaries and the higher elevations.

There are presently over 40 Arabian gazelles roaming through the park. Other mammals include the rare Gordon’s wild cat, wolves and a small number of red foxes (Vulpes arabica).