Arabian oryx set for Wadi Rum reintroduction

3rd Apr 2013

More than 250,000 tourists have visited Wadi Rum in Jordan each year since it was granted UNESCO world heritage status two years' ago.

Not content with resting on its laurels, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority has allocated Wadi Rum $350,000 (£230,860) as part of a new desert conservation plan.

The money will be used to create a 500 square kilometre (193 square mile) wilderness zone, with a further 200 square kilometre (77 square mile) site set aside for an intensive use area.

The wilderness reserve will hope to provide the natural habitat for the Arabian oryx to be reintroduced back into the wild - 80 years after it was almost hunted to extinction.

Eight male and 12 female oryx were reintroduced in a protected enclosure in Wadi Rum after the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency launched a $1.1 million (£730,000) conservation project in 2010.

More than 60 oryx are now located in Wadi Rum, with plans to release some of the animals back into the wild later this year.

Aesh Ali Alzalabiah, a local Bedouin ranger, said: "Wadi Rum is one of the most beautiful places around the world, where you can feel the silence and the nature."

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