UAE & OMAN 2011


Arabia's Wildlife Centre,
Sharjah Desert Park, Sharjah, UAE


The 2 sq. km. Sharjah Desert Park was established in the 1990s, the brain-child of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The aims of the SDP were to educate the public about the wildlife of the Arabian Peninsula and encourage conservation and protection of the flora and fauna.

The Sharjah Desert Park has four component parts:
Sharjah Natural History Museum
Children's Farm
Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife (not open to the public)
Arabia's Wildlife Centre

Click this link for more information.

During my short stay I was based at the Arabia's Wildlife Centre which houses an impressive collection of Arabian reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, mammals and invertebrates.

The entrance to the Sharjah Desert Park, Sharjah, UAE.


Arabia's Wildlife Centre, Sharjah Desert Park, Sharjah, UAE.


The facade of the Arabia's Wildlife Centre is impressive and imposing.


Arabia's Wildlife Centre - front of house.
click on image to enlarge

The 'front of house' public corridors are extensive, well laid out and fascinating.
This is a must visit location for anyone visiting Dubai, it takes only an hour to get to the SDP but check their opening hours and days.

The off-show facilities are, of course, closed to the public. They are expansive, well organised and very impressive with massive scope for captive breeding programs and research projects.

Arabian Wildlife Centre - offshow facilities.

All in all this is one of the most impressive herpetological facilities I think I have ever visits.

Other Arabian Reptiles

Whilst at the Arabia's Wildlife Centre I took the opportunity to photograph some of the reptiles found in other parts of the Arabian Peninsula and neighbouring regions.

Platyceps rhodorachis - Wadi racer
The Wadi racer is a common species in the rocky mountains of eastern UAE and northwestern Oman, as well as elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula. We had expected to find it during our visit to the Musandam Peninsula but where unsuccessful.
The photographed specimen came from Wadi Wurayah in Fujairah, UAE.

Wadi racer,
Platyceps rhodorachis
Arabian Peninsula

Platyceps ventromaculatus - Glossy racer
The Glossy racer, also known as Hardwick's ratsnake, occurs on the northern coast of Saudi Arabia, opposite Bahrain, and from there into Kuwait and Iraq. The specimen photographed came from Bahrain.

Glossy racer,
Platyceps ventromaculatus
Northwestern Arabian Peninsula

Malpolon moilensis - Moile snake
A widely distributed Arabian snake, the moile snake is sometimes called 'false cobra' on account of its ability to raise itself up and spread a narrow hood, but it is harmless, being a rear-fanged snake with venom only capable of killed lizards or mice. It is related to the Montpellier snake (M.monspessulanus) or the Mediterranean countries.

Moile snake,
Malpolon moilensis
Arabian Peninsula

Telescopus dhara - Arabian catsnake
The Arabian catsnake exhibits a wide but scattered distribution across the Peninsula. Within the UAE it is confined to the northeastern region near the Omani border.

Arabian catsnake,
Telescopus dhara
Arabian Peninsula

Telescopus nigriceps - Black-headed catsnake
An attractive catsnake elevated from subspecific status within the European catsnake (T.fallax). This species does not actually occur in Arabia, but it is found in Iraq to the north.

Black-headed catsnake,
Telescopus nigriceps

Bitis arietans arietans - Saudi puff adder
The African puff adder also occurs in the southwestern Arabian Peninsula. The specimens at the Arabia's Wildlife Centre originate from Saudi Arabia.

Puff adder,
Bitis arietans arietans
Southwestern Arabian Peninsula

Naja arabica - Arabian cobra
Elevated to specific status from within the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), the Arabian cobra is confined to southwestern Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.

Arabian cobra,
Naja arabica
Southwestern Arabian Peninsula

Johannes Els and his team have also just accomplished the first captive breeding of the Arabian cobra (see Els, J. 2011 First record of the reproduction of the Arabian cobra (Naja arabica) (Scortecci, 1932) in captivity. African Herp News 54:4-6.)

Arabian cobra,
Naja arabica
Southwestern Arabian Peninsula
captive bred hatchlings, grey and brown phases


Varanus yemenensis - Yemen monitor lizard
A newly described and poorly known monitor lizard from the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabia's Wildlife Centre specimen is old. The species belongs to the Varanus albogularis subgenus Polydaedalus.

Yemen monitor lizard,
Varanus yemenensis
Southwestern Arabian Peninsula