NEOM finally welcomes oryx, ibex, sand gazelles, and mountain gazelles as its first step to make globally significant contributions to conserving its natural environment.
NEOM’s wildlife project
NEOM is a region in Saudi Arabia – a catalyst for maintaining a sustainable life, work, and prosperity. Its initiative for conserving wildlife in order to demonstrate the unique biodiversity of the region prompted the entry of four different species of wildlife into its reserves. The animals include oryx, ibex, sand gazelles, and mountain gazelles which arrived from the National Center for Wildlife (NCW) in Riyadh in late October.
The animals had to spend some time in specially designed pens in order to acclimatize to their new environment, after which they were released into their new nature reserve. This arrival of the animals in collaboration with NCW is a key step in initiating NEOM’s rewilding program.
Saudi Green Initiative
Part of NEOM’s aim of global development as part of its Vision 2030 is its Saudi Green Initiative (SGI). The project covers a vast area of 25,000 km2 allocated towards creating a model for nature conservation. NEOM, through its rather ambitious initiative, aims to benefit residents, tourists, and wildlife widely and spread awareness of the benefits of rewilding and regreening in order to prompt such advancements in other areas across the region.
Here is what the CEO of NCW, Dr. Mohammad Qurban had to say about the SGI:
“Our partnership with NEOM aligns with the objectives of the national program for reintroducing local endangered species back into their natural ecosystems, one of the SGI initiatives. By supporting the Kingdom’s strategy for environmental conservation, this initiative contributes to sustainable development, promoting the growth of local ecosystems and ensuring their biodiversity. It also highlights NCW’s strong collaboration efforts with prominent local entities that share our goals.
Dr. Paul Marshall and his initiatives
Dr. Paul Marshall is the head of NEOM’s nature reserve and this is what he had to say:
The wildlife release was a historical moment: this is the first time that oryx have walked the sands of NEOM for nearly 100 years. It was also a demonstration of our commitment to the protection of nature, which is at the core of NEOM’s vision. We aim to be at the forefront of redefining nature conservation and NEOM’s Nature Reserve provides an unrivaled landscape to support this aspiration. Through the establishment of a world-class protected area, we will be able to preserve 95% of NEOM’s land and sea for nature and implement a science-based program of protection, restoration, and rewilding.
The release of these animals into the nature reserve highlights the first step within NEOM’s wider restoration effort which comprises these policies:
- The SGI to position NEOM as a key player advocating to restore the abundance of wildlife
- To begin reintroducing near-extinct or rare breeds of wildlife into the environment
- protect wildlife from unlawful hunting
It appears that NEOM is being developed as a vessel for opportunity and innovation highlighting the sustainable region taking shape. Its simultaneous aims of preserving its land for the natural environment and ensuring biodiversity in the area are what attributes it to a place at the forefront of all efforts to protect our natural world.