Oman Wildlife < OMAN ENVIRONMENT

Gazelles of Jiddat


 

'Along with the Arabian oryx , gazelles have also gained from the care provided at the protected area which stretches endlessly in the Wosta region'
Pulsating life that brings the Omani arid region alive comprise some of the most fascinating and endearing wildlife. Not long ago, Jiddat Al Harassis in the wilayat of Haima which was home to the majestic Arabian oryx bore the brunt of insensible acts that led to the disappearance of the gracious animal. However, the reign of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos witnessed an unparalleled concern for the protection of Omani environment in all its aspects and priority was attached to reintroduce Arabian oryx in its original habitat. The oryx project launched with a handful of animals in the protected Yaloony area today has exceeded all expectations, underscoring the favourable conditions prevalent in the Sultanate for a variety of wildlife. Along with the Arabian oryx , gazelles have also gained from the care provided at the protected area which stretches endlessly in the Wosta region. The flatlands of Jiddat Al Harassis form an ideal environment for the Arabian oryx and gazelles.

There are no mountains or wadis that hinder the free movements of these agile and swiftfooted animals. The Harassis tribe which inhabits the surrounding areas of Yaloony has responded to the oryx project with utmost commitment. They consider the wildlife endemic to their area as part of their very lives and are prepared go to any length to protect them. A good number of them have enrolled themselves as official guards at the oryx reserve.A visit to the oryx reserve can be possible only after obtaining the permission of the Diwan of the Royal Court.

The ever watchful guards linked by a wireless radio communication network move from one end to the other in their safari vehicles and ensure the safety of animals as well as check the entry of intruders in the protected area. There are no fences to protect the area as an enclosure and hence the guards remain extra alert all the while. The Arabian oryx and gazelles roam in the wild at Jiddat Al Harassis. Often, oryx can be spotted in groups numbering 10 to 15 heads in each group, walking long distances in pursuit of pastures and water.

 
For wildlife enthusiasts, Jiddat Al Harassis offers a life-time chance 
to encounter the Arabian oryx and gazelles roaming in the wild in 
their original habitat marked by flatlands where simr trees and shrubs
flourish. The experience no doubt could leave one enriched in the 
understanding and appreciation of nature's magnificence.
 

They are not very comfortable with people and moving vehicles and flee from those who get close to them.In contrast to the stark arid landscape, oryx stand out graciously with its smooth white coat and lengthy pointed horns with grooves. Their movements in fact bring life to the otherwise sombre area. At times getting a glimpse of oryx may turn out to be difficult as they travel long distances. The accompanying picture of the group of oryx was shot after travelling in the reserve area for more than 40 km. Guidance by a guard from the oryx reserve was vital in setting out on the trail of the shy animal.

It was evening time past 5 p.m. and the group of oryx with calves was found grazing, probably having the last bites before the night's rest. The sunset provided a stunning backdrop to watch them in silhouette. One had to be careful in not scaring the oryx away and hence telephoto lens was used to capture them. Early next morning before sunrise, the area where the group of oryx was seen was again targeted for another encounter with them. However, they could be tracked only at a place seven km away from the spot they were seen the previous night. Gazelles also abound in keeping company to oryx at Jiddat Al Harassis.

The endearing gazelles are seen moving in large groups as well as in few numbers. The swift-footed and slender-bodied gazelles are also adept at disappearing from those whose presence they are wary of. The movements of gazelles in flight are a gripping combination of graceful steps sparking rhythmic beauty.The golden brown smooth skin of gazelles make them irresistibly attractive. While the upper parts of their body and face are golden textured, the belly and two streaks on the face running down from the eyes are snowy white.

The petite animals with sharp sight and twitching ears that grasp even the faintest sound afar can be seen standing still and carefully watching when strangers enter their domain. Sensing danger, they leap out of sight in a few seconds. For wildlife enthusiasts, Jiddat Al Harassis offers a life-time chance to encounter the Arabian oryx and gazelles roaming in the wild in their original habitat marked by flatlands where simr trees and shrubs flourish. The experience no doubt could leave one enriched in the understanding and appreciation of nature's magnificence.

 

  How to Get There?

A drive from Muscat to the Interior region brings visitors to Nizwa from where the Salalah route must be followed for 500 km when Haima will be accessed. Here, fuel and other necessities should be ensured for the onward journey. At Haima, one should turn left to proceed on the road to Ad Doqum. After travelling 80 km on this road, a road sign will appear indicating a left turn for Matar Hab Hab or Hab Hab airport. Travel on this road for 15 km, the entire stretch of which is lined by oil drums, and Yaloony will emerge on the right side, but without any indication.

Visitors should note that there are no roads to access Yaloony and the tracks can be followed only with the help of guides. Another 15-km drive on the tracks will bring you to the camp at the oryx reserve. Visitors should bear in mind to carry maps of the area and GPS to avoid getting lost. At least two vehicles must travel together to ensure safety.One can also reach Yaloony from Sinaw by travelling on the gravel road to Ad Doqum. At Ad Doqum, the right turn to Haima should be taken to reach the junction where one turns for Hab Hab airport.

* © Adapted from Oman Observer.