Arabia: Dune adventures

Update from our wildlife conservation volunteering holiday in Dubai (UAE) working on oryx, wildcat and desert species

Our Arabia desert volunteer expedition is on its last day this year. Three teams are out collecting nine camera traps set from group 1 on the very first expedition day. Rupa and Jim volunteered for data entry and sharing expert knowledge of optimising datasheets and streamlining all the data that has been put into the computer so far. The three of us are at the office right now, everyone typing on their computers eagerly.

All quadrat, fox den and eagle owl surveys were completed by Thursday evening – great job, team 2! That allowed us to spent a whole day with ‘Blind spot surveys’ – 11 pairs of eyes and ears out in the field exploring remote areas the scientist know little about. Out of eight specific areas (see map) the teams explored the terrain between Tawi Suhail and Tawi Manana in the morning.

Two teams parked their 4×4 on the north road and walked straight south, the other two teams parked on the south road and walked north, the distance between starting points being 500 metres. Reaching the end point, each team was then supposed to find a car parked on the roadside about 500 m away. So far, so good – one team picked up the wrong car, but other than that, the logistics worked well. All teams did a great job navigating and arrived safe and sound ‘on the other side’ bringing back valuable data from the field. After the successful morning test run, we did the same in blind spot D13 in the afternoon.

It was quieter than usual during the de-brief. Everyone looked pretty tired from walking in sandy dune terrain in the sun for a whole day. Thanks for your effort & well done, team!

One team found a dead fox, another team discovered an eagle owl hunting outlook under a fire bush, located on a steep sandy slope, overlooking a large gravel plain. Many pellets of different ages showed that this spot is used frequently for hunting by at least one owl. The location is definitely worth revisiting.

We have not spotted lappet-faced vultures for a few days now. But today a team is on the lookout specifically around the area where a gazelle was killed by a feral dog yesterday.

Apart from the field work, we will catch up with data entry and have included this activity in today’s planning.

Despite the the great effort put in by this group, most expeditioners make it to base camp before the survey de-brief at the DDCR office to take a quick shower or have a well-deserved a cup of coffee.

Update from our Arabia expedition in Dubai, UAE working as an oryx volunteer in the desert of the UAE

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