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Shaumari Wildlife Reserve - an outstanding protected area in Jordan worthy of praise

A rare natural gem not many know about, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve is one of Jordan's most surprising eco-attractions; a protected home and breeding ground to some of the rarest animal species to be found in the Middle East. Comprising desert wadis as well as rocky hamada areas, not only are the landscapes here worthy of admiration, but the biodiversity supported means a visit to this reserve is a must for nature and wildlife lovers.

Shaumari Wildlife Reserve - an outstanding protected area in Jordan worthy of praise

A visit to a protected reserve might not feature high on the list of a visitor to Jordan, yet this is one natural attraction that deserves not only mentioning, but high praise indeed.

Created in 1975 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) as the first wildlife protection area in Jordan, covering an expanse of 22 square kilometres, the Shaumari Reserve houses a commendable population of rare, endangered species endemic to the region, some of which can only be found here. Beyond that there's a wealth of varied flora with over 193 recorded species, including six different species of carnivore plants.

Initially established as a breeding centre with the goal of reintroducing some globally threatened and locally extinct wildlife (such as the Arabian Oryx), three years after its opening international efforts kick-started the Arabian Oryx rescue operation after the reserve welcomed four Oryx from the U.S. Phoenix Zoo. By 1983, resounding breeding success was celebrated as 31 Arabian Oryx were released from captivity into natural habitats within the reserve.

Nowadays, the Shaumari Reserve is home to even more rare animal species and visitors can expect to enjoy glimpses of Somali Ostriches, Goitered Gazelles and Persian Onagers, happily roaming within special enclosures.

Of them all, the Arabian Oryx enjoys the most freedom, found everywhere around the reserve, grazing on desert grassland and enjoying an idyllic hunt-free environment. For decades, their numbers had reduced massively due to a devastating combination of habitat destruction and severe hunting; but here they thrive completely undisturbed.

A model for environmental conservation and education, Jordanian universities have a space here for ongoing scientific research on arid and semi-arid desert areas. With beautiful desert wadis making up about 65 per cent of the park's total area, the Wadi Shaumari is the most popular of all, cutting through the heart of the reserve after which its named.

The Shaumari Wildlife Reserve is found in Azraq, a town located some 100 km east of Amman. It has been reopened to the public very recently, so there's really no excuse for leaving this gem out of your Jordan holiday itinerary.

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