More than 500 species of plant and animal life are protected within these natural areas, including more than 55 species and subspecies that are native to the Arabian Peninsula and do not occur anywhere else.
Indeed, 30% of all of Saudi Arabia’s terrestrial mammal species have been recorded within the Company’s Abha protected area. The Abha protected area contains perhaps the best habitat for Philby’s Partridge, a bird that is unique to southwest Arabia.
Endangered species in Saudi Arabia
The number of endangered species across the world is increasing, and Saudi Arabia is no different. Around 33% of the Kingdom’s plant and animal species are formally listed as threatened with extinction, with perhaps 70% of the plant and animal populations decreasing.
For example, the Common Ostrich once roamed across much of the Arabian Peninsula, even entering the Rub’ al-Khali. But this enormous bird was hunted to extinction several decades ago.
Likewise, the Arabian Bustard once ranged across the western region of Saudi Arabia, but its numbers gradually dwindled, due to habitat loss and hunting, until it disappeared around 1993. Fortunately, a single bird was recorded on Farasan Island in 2020.
The Spotted Sandgrouse, a desert bird that frequently featured in ancient Arabic poetry, once occurred across most of the northern half of Saudi Arabia. By 1980, it began to disappear, and is now found only in two small patches near Yanbu’ and Haradh.
With a large number of species decreasing in number, it becomes a challenge to identify which ones to prioritize for conservation efforts and resources. Which species should ecologists help first?