Trap cameras capture Arabian Ibex drinking seawater

Oman Tuesday 11/June/2024 15:39 PM
By: Times News Service
Trap cameras capture Arabian Ibex drinking seawater
Muscat: A field study revealed a rare case of an Arabian Ibex drinking seawater in the Sultanate of Oman .
The field study carried out by a research team from the Environmental Conservation Office at the Environment Authority to track the spread of the Arabian Ibex (Tahr) in the Ras Abu Dawood area in the Muscat Governorate demonstrated the ability of the Arabian Tahr to drink seawater.
They were monitored by camera traps on three different occasions.
HH Sayyid Taimur bin Abdullah Al Said, an environmental systems specialist at the Environment Authority , said that the consumption of seawater is a rare occurrence among land animals.
"We collected and analysed camera trap data from the study site at a beach characterised by being an isolated area in Ras Abu Dawood in Muscat Governorate, as the availability of fresh water at the site is limited and the average annual rainfall is 117.2 mm, most of which falls during the winter, and the region also experiences hot climate in summer," he said.
Sayyid Taimur added that the Arabian Ibex (Arabitragus jayakari) is considered an important wildlife in the Sultanate of Oman. It is a small mountain goat that belongs to the Bovidae family, and is endemic to the Al Hajar mountain range in the Arabian Peninsula (from the head of the Musandam Governorate to Ras Al Hadd in the South Al Sharqiyah Governorate), where it is considered the original and only home to the Arabian Ibex in the world.
Sayyid Taimur Al Said pointed out that this type of animal lives in steep and rugged habitats, and is often found at altitudes ranging between 400 metres and 1,200 metres.
The previous studies carried out by the Environmental Conservation Office pointed out that the region does not only contain the Arabian Ibex, but other species also live in it, such as the Arabian Gazelle, Arabian Wolf, Lynx, Wild Cat, Red Fox, and Mountain Fox.
The specialist at the Environment Authority explained that the study proved the ability of the Arabian Ibex to drink sea water, due to lack of fresh water in the Ras Abu Dawood area, in addition to confirming the hypothesis that this species uses seawater as a nutritional supplement due to lack of sodium and minerals.
He pointed out that the Ibex was monitored through two cameras, the first monitored the male Ibex, and the second monitored the female and baby Ibex.
The Arabian Ibex drinks seawater for only 2-3 seconds from large pools on the rocky shore between the tides and not directly from seawater.
The specialist at the authority stressed that it is important to preserve the behavioural diversity that expresses the Arabian Ibex, similar to the genetic diversity that provides behavioural diversity for endangered species in order to adapt and survive in arid environments.
This and other behaviours may help the Arabian Ibex cope with expected future environmental changes in the region.
It is noteworthy that this environmental study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Arid Environments via the science direct website which publishes international scientific papers and research in various fields, including those on environment.