Preventing Extinction of Gazelles in Southern Iraq

FAO Iraq mobilizing efforts to prevent the extinction of reem gazelles in Southern Iraq

A delegation from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Iraq visited last week Sawa Nature Reserve in Al Muthanna.

This came as a follow-up to the urgent and current situation where reem gazzelles are endangered due to starvation and thirst.

These gazelles have long existed in Iraq but they are nowadays threatened to extinct due to climate change and other challenges, mainly severe successive droughts, which are resulting in poor grazing areas. In the last months, 41% of Reem gazelles died where the numbers decreased from 148 to 87 heads in the reserve.

During this visit, FAO Iraq Representative Dr. Salah El-Hajj Hassan with a team of experts from FAO met with the local authorities in Al Muthanna Governorate along representatives from Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and University of Al Muthanna to discuss these issues. FAO urged to put an action plan for the immediate and long-term sustainable interventions.

FAO Iraq Representative, Dr. Salah El-Hajj Hassan says:

"FAO is committed to work closely with the local authorities, Ministries of Agriculture and Environment to prevent the extinction of animals in Sawa Nature Reserve and to protect the rich biological diversity in Iraq. We will put in action short and long term sustainable plan."

The key actions to be implemented are:

  • Use the grant support from H.E president of Iraq to have long lasting sustainable solutions.
  • FAO to provide urgently 15 tons of concentrate feeds and 5 tons catalytic feed supplements (Sugar molasses and multinutrient feed blocks).
  • Al Muthanna Electricity Department and the local government to provide electricity to the protected site.
  • Rehabilitate the reserve's fence and set a solar energy model with FAO's support for irrigation facilities.
  • Introduce the cultivation of drought and salt tolerant fodder crops (Alfalfa and Sudanese Sorghum) and shrubs (Atriplex Nummularia), FAO will provide seeds and technical expertise,
  • Train employees in the reserve as well as neighboring farmers in collaboration with the colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Al-Muthanna.
  • Incorporate an area of the reserve and its neighboring villages including protected dromedary areas with FAO to be planted with fodder seeds and train the farmers.
  • Close follow-up to implement these actions as soon as possible.

(Source: UN)

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