This project is about investigating the biodiversity and the importance of preserving biodiversity. Each group have chosen an Arabian species to evaluate it and to investigate its status. Every member of the group has to write one part of the report. Investigating biodiversity, the status of the species and how can we protect this species from loss. And how can the society as a whole contribute to the preservation of the biodiversity and the specific species that we chose to write about.
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Biodiversity is a very important subject, as today the world is facing a biodiversity crises. The biodiversity crises basically means the loss of many types of different species on earth that humans lives depend on (IUCN, 2010). Biodiversity is ‘the variety of life’ it is the variety of all species on the planet. Biodiversity contains all the different animals, plants, creatures, insects, microorganisms and it includes the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. Biodiversity can be divided into three types Genetic diversity, organismal diversity, and ecological diversity. The genetic diversity covers the components of the genetic code that makeup organisms and the variations between the individuals in the population and between populations. Organismal diversity includes the taxonomic hierarchy from individuals to genera and beyond. Ecological diversity includes the scales of ecological differences from populations, niches, habitats, up to biomes (Gaston, K. & Spicer, J. 2004).
We have chosen to write about a very beautiful and amazing animal. This animal lives in parts of the Arabian peninsula. People used to kill it to save their cattle from being eaten by this animal, and then they used its nice patterned fur for decorating their homes, and they were also hunted for their teeth and claws (McGregor, T., Spalton, A. & Hikmani, H. 2007). The animal that we will discuss is the Arabian Leopard, as we know that it is an endangered animal in the Arabian peninsula and we would like to explore more information about this gorgeous animal.
PANTHERA PARDUS NIMR The Arabian Leopard is one of the common names of this animal, the other common name is the South Arabian Leopard. The Arabian leopard is a sub species of the known leopard panthera pardus. The scientific name of the Arabian Leopard is Panthera pardus ssp. Nimr. The taxonomy of the Arabian Leopard is shown in the table below (IUCN, 2010). The trophic level of the Arabian leopard is Carnivore.
The panthera pardus nimr is considered the smallest subspecies of leopards. Its total length is between 160 cm – 220 cm, the length of its tail only is between 66 cm – 100 cm. The Arabian leopard weight is between 28 kg – 75 kg. The Arabian leopards has special small and widely spaced spots (Kingdon, j. 1991). The color of the Arabian leopards’ body is nearly pale brown or golden color. Its lower part of the body can be yellow or white. The spots are black and sometimes have the shape of a flower (Selim, M. & El-Batanouny, K. n.d.)
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The ecological niche means the species’ way of life or role in a community or an ecosystem and it includes everything that affects its survival and reproduction (Spoolman, S. & Miller, T. 2008). The Arabian leopards depends on livestock, domestic goats, Arabian Tahr, and other small birds and mammals as a food source. The Arabian Leopard is considered a very powerful predator in the region where it is on control. The habitat of the Arabian leopard is mostly in mountainous and hilly areas and its rarely venture into open plains (McGregor, T., Spalton, A. & Hikmani, H. 2007). Because of the lower numbers of the Arabian leopards in the region another predator has taken its place which is the Caracal (McGregor, T., Spalton, A. & Hikmani, H. 2007). So the Caracal has taken over the Arabian leopards’ place and is occupying its area, and this can cause the Arabian leopards numbers to become less because there is another predator that is taking its food and habitat areas. According to local people in Oman the Caracal is their enemy because it hunts their livestock in wadis and close to their homes while that Arabian leopard only preys on livestock in the mountains so they were aggressive towards that Caracal, they hunt it and kill it because it causes a lot of damage to them. Another thing that affected the Arabian leopards survival in the region is the constant civilization and building roads that reaches the top of the mountains, people also are taking its place by local housing expansion, over grazing, and farming (McGregor, T., Spalton, A. & Hikmani, H. 2007). All these human activities and “modernization” are endangering the Arabian leopards’ survival in the region.
Figure 1: http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/images/stories/pdfs/reports/report-oman0607.pdf The Arabian leopard can only be seen in several areas in the Arabian peninsula. The distribution range of the Arabian leopard is shown in figure 1. Its distribution ranges from the mountains of Haqel in the north-west of Arabia, Yemen, the mountains of Hadramout to north-east of Oman, and the eastern mountains of the United Arab Emirates. The Arabian leopards extends from the rugged arid, to semi arid mountains along the coast of the Red Sea in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Al Johany, A. 2006). The figure below shows the distribution of the Arabian leopard in the Arabian peninsula and the neighboring region and it shows whether the Arabian leopard distribution is confirmed, probable, possible, or historical in that particular area.
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Species classified by Biologists that heading toward biological extinction as threatened, extinct and endangered species. Firstly, threatened species is a species that still abundant in its natural range but they continues to decrease and most likely to became endangered in the future. Also, threatened species can known as vulnerable species and the example of this kind of species is Dugong dugon. Secondly, some species not known in wild, it only can found in zoos or private collection such as Arabian Oryx and that an example of extinct species. Thirdly, an endangered species is a few numbers of organism’s population that at risk to be extinct or threatened because of environmental changing or human impact and the Arabian leopard is an example of this species(Miller, T., & Spoolman, S). Endangered species include 1 in 4 mammals, 1 in 8 birds and 1/3 of all amphibians(The plight of endangered species). However, many scientists and some university’ courses are focusing in this type of species to preserve and protect them to not be extinction.
Arabian leopard is one of this endangered species which estimated to no more than 250 mature individuals. Also, this number is subject to decline in the future which mean that Arabian leopards are able to be extinct because of the small population they have. The Arabian leopard was spread widely in the mountains of Arab countries such as Haqel in the northern part of Median Mountains, in Hijaz and the Sarawat Mountains. In addition, this leopard existed in the northern Yemen highlands, in the mountains of Ras al-Khaimah and the eastern region of UAE and in the Jebel Samhan and Dhofar mountains in Oman(Arabian leopard- critically endangered(CR)). However, the lack of awareness amongst the people in the past lead to decrease the numbers of leopards.
What are the reasons that make species threatened and endangered? Hunting, killing and perishing are the causes of the reduction of Arabian leopard which mostly caused by people in a direct and indirect way. Sometimes leopards were killed accidentally when they was eating poisoned which is putted to wolves and hyenas. In 1986, four Arabian leopards killed in the Ras Al-Khaimah mountains in the UAE(Harman, A). Moreover, a recently killed leopard found in 1992 in the border area between Sultanate Oman and UAE, sadly, in the same area other two leopards found one of them killed and another injured. 50,000 leopard were killed during the early 1960s just in East Africa(Harman, A). In addition, some of farmers and cattle herdsmen are forced to kill the Arabian leopard to save them self and their livestock because they thought that leopard are attacking and killing their goats and may attack them and people who live around.
On the other hand, some people are killing and hunting the Arabian leopards because of the commercial value they have. Hunters take the advantages from leopards through selling their skins and the leopard furs and that happened with some traders in Africa and Yemen(Harman, A). This kind of illegal situation could increase the income of traders but affect negatively in Arabian leopards which make them endangered and threatens their population.
Habitat destruction it also considered as the most serious cause that threatens species when it mean the complete lose of areas with it all resources that species need to survive(Miller, T., & Spoolman, S). Unfortunately, the increase of people’s population has a negative effect in areas that mammal live in, there is always a new construction of shopping malls, parks, developed houses and factories. Also, there is a daily cut of forests and
grassland in areas that Arabian leopard and other mammals live in (Kirkland, G). Species are basically need food, shelter, water and the proper environment as human needs to survive and live in suitable environment (Bailey, R.) . Moreover, habitat fragmentation which represent the isolation of areas to many sections and make it difficult for species to feeding, migration and mating. Also, the number of Arabian leopard declined because of the reduction in numbers of deer and bucks that live in the mountain area that leopard live in and characterize as the main source of food for leopard(Arabian Leopard). Species affected by changing and rendering habitat and that changes come from draining wetlands, constructing flood-control reservoir and plowing native grasslands. Directly or indirectly, Arabian leopard can be affected and died because of the environmental pollution, that pollution can limiting and reducing the needs of the mammals. Some mammals die after drinking waters that contained a cyanide(Kirkland, G).
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Endangered species has some certain common characteristics that shared with other endangered and extinct species such as the large size. Some of endangered species has a large size which need hundreds or thousands of acres to support their population , when other mammals such mice need a small woodlot to live in. Also, endangered species has a low productive rate because some mammals naturally produce just one offspring each year and it is difficult to recover rabidly if the mortality rate is high(Kirkland, G). Compared to small rodents, they are able to produce many large litters in each year. Endangered mammals and Arabian leopards can also considered as a species that has a small population, rare and has high trophic level. Mammals as Arabian leopard become threatened if the specialized habitats they live in is widely separated to many spaces and in small sizes, because these species need a large areas in order to find their priorities of food and water to survive.
Figure 2: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/oman/oman-yemen-tie-up-urged-to-save-leopards-1.18006
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Over the last million years, nearly five mass extinctions have occurred since the beginning of the universe. They either determine the end of an era of time or the beginning of another. The Ordovician-Silurian extinction, the late Devonian extinction, the Premian-Triassic extinction, the Triassic-Jurassic extinction and the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction was the five mass extinctions. Figure 3
Each one of them had causes, in the end of the Ordovician extinction about 447 until 444 million years ago; mark the border between the Ordovician period and the period following which is the Silurian. In that extinction there were several important changes in the size of carbon isotopes of essentials of the reaction and the biology of oxygen. Those changes refer to classified different stages in a single event. At that time, complex multicellular organisms lived in the sea, and about 100 families of them covers about 49 percent of the marine. More reliable estimate of species of the animals has become extinct. The earth lost brachiopods and small bi-valve bryozoans colonials, along with many families of trilobites and graptolites (small colonial marine animals).
The late Devonian extinction was equivalent to the global cooling and has been suggested as a cause of extinction of the Devonian, as is also suspected of causing the extinction of the terminal Ordovician. Climate change and the drop of sea level caused the Premian-Triassic extinction also. In the Triassic-Jurassic extinction and the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, the scientist said that a volcano caused it. Volcanoes release a range of
Haya Sultan 200520663
gases into the stratosphere of which SO2 and CO2 are volumetrically the most important (Devine, J.D. Sigurdsson, H. Davis, A.N. (1984).
Those causes that happened in the past naturally happened. But nowadays, we might face another mass extinction but this time humans are the main cause of it. The causes nowadays are many. First on is the destruction of species habitat and fragmentation. We remove many forests either to use the trees in making furniture or papers or either to make papers, which destroys lot habitats of many kinds of species. Second thing is rapid human population growth. Which means more land to be cleared to build houses and facilities. Third cause is genetic pollution. Pollution caused by factories and transportations. Forth cause is Global warming.
According to wildlife Middle East news they said, ” The recent rapid decline of the Arabian leopard is due to a variety of reasons, most of which are caused by people. Rapid human population growth causes encroachment into wilderness areas, putting pressure on leopards and other wild. Depletion by hunting of natural prey such as Nubian ibex (Capra ibex), Arabian tahr (Hemitragus jayakari), Mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella cora), and rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) leaves little for leopards to eat so some are forced to prey on livestock. This leads to conflicts with villagers who kill leopards in order to protect their herds. Wealthy animal collectors who pay huge sums for Arabian Leopards encourage the trapping of leopards for the illegal market”.
Different sectaries in the UAE are taking action to protect the Arabian leopard. In 1993, the UAE set up the Arabian leopard trust which is planning to protect its habitat in the mountains, and conserving native Arabian wildlife in general. The Arabian Leopard Trust is trying to maintain the impact on the Arabian leopard locally and globally. Also in Sharjah there is a breeding center which successfully had the third litter of cubs born.
We as individuals we can help protecting the Arabian leopard by stop introducing non-native animals and leave them in the wild. Also recycling and reducing pollution helps. Not just the Arabian Leopard, but also all the species that are threaten and endangered. And government can help by protect the mountainous habitats and set laws to stop hunters from threaten the Arabian leopard. The media also have a very big impact on people. It can spread awareness among people about endangers animals and how can we help in protecting them.
Summary & conclusion:
Biodiversity means the variety of life on earth. The Arabian leopard is an Arabian animal that faces the danger of being extinct. Endangered species as Arabian leopard is a species that still abundant in wild but their population are able to decline. Human impact and environmental pollution has a significant role of the reduction of Arabian leopard’s population. This endangered leopard has some common characteristics such as low productive, small population and large size. There are also some initiatives done to protect this animal from loss. After doing research and writing this report we found out that animals and different species in the entire world are very important. Each and every animal, insect, plant, or even bacteria has an important role in this ecosystem and in maintaining the balance of life on earth. All these different species, both the ones we discovered and the ones we didn’t, are interconnected in a way or another. For example the species that we based our report about; the Arabian leopard, has mostly disappeared from many regions so another animal took its place in that area like the caracal who is now attacking cattle more than the Arabian leopard would do if it was in its normal region. And this thing affects the ecosystem there. So we noticed that if any species is lost it affects the ecosystem in some way; that’s why we should be concerned about saving the species and preventing them from loss, because we want to live in a balanced healthy world. And the species loss is breaking the balance and the harmony of life.
Islam is a very merciful religion for both humans and animals. For example there is “Hadith Sharif” a saying by prophet Mohammed peace be upon him “Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “While a man was walking on a road. he became very thirsty. Then he came across a well, got down into it, drank (of its water) and then came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. The man said to himself “This dog is suffering from the same state of thirst as I did.” So he went down the well (again) and filled his shoe (with water) and held it in his mouth and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He said, “(Yes) There is a reward for serving any animate (living being) .” (Good Manners and form, n.d.). That’s why we should protect biodiversity out of our religion, and even out of the person’s values also.
If the status of our species was reevaluated when we are 50 years old. We think that Arabian leopards will be extinct in the wild, but there will be some raised in captivities and wildlife preserves. As we notice this huge development and change in the habitat of this species which lives in the mountains. But if the concerns about its loss started from now the situation might improve and we might have an increase in the numbers of the Arabian leopards. But they would probably be raised in places far from this development and they might create more preserves to save what can be saved from its habitat.
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