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focus June 2002




It is that time of year again! It is hot and getting humid and it's a good excuse not to get out and about. However, as usual this summer, Charles Laubach will be organizing a series of outings through June and July. For those members who are staying, not to be missed. I am always surprised by how pleasant these excursions can be, if you visit and camp in the right places! Last summer we had a great trip to the high mountains of the Musandam, which was enjoyed by all, but particularly by the person who brought along an electrical fan for his tent! Please give your contact details to Charles at the next meeting, if you are interested in taking part in these excursions.

This issue of Focus will be the last one until early September, as most people will be away on their summer holidays. So we have included the proposed lectures for this autumn to note in your diaries. It will also be the last issue that I will be editing, as I have to concentrate on more cerebral things! I have enjoyed compiling Focus for the last three years and sincerely hope that my successor has your full support. I wish him or her well in their efforts.

I wish you all the very best for the future.

Finest regards

Stephen L. James ( Outgoing Chairman of the ENHG).

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Membership Notice

Due to the very transient nature of many of our members, who often only stay in the UAE for a short period of time. It would be very helpful if you could contact Hazim Chalabi (contact details in the Committee Members Box) with the following information:
Full Name
P O Box Number
Telephone and Fax Numbers
Mobile phone number
E-mail address

If you are leaving the UAE permanently this summer, please contact Hazim so you can be removed from our membership database list.

Thank you for your help in this matter.

Steve James

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The Dubai lioness who had a lucky break!

ENHG members might be interested to read about the follow up on the lioness, which was rescued by Dubai authorities and mentioned in a previous issue of Focus.

I reported that the Born Free Foundation were looking for help in transporting this animal to a game reserve in South Africa. This is what happened, as reported by the Born Free Foundation.

The lioness rescued from Dubai Zoo, stepped out into her bush enclosure at Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa. It was Born Free's 26th big cat rescue. The lioness in question turned up at Dubai airport on 23rd September last year. The label on the crate said "cheetah". The crate was intercepted by customs officials at the airport, who believed that it had been smuggled in from Somaliland. No one turned up to collect the animal, so Dubai Zoo was called in to help.

Ibrahim Moosa from the zoo said "She was in such a small cage, it was unbelievable". The crate was breaking up in several places. The stench was terrible. The zoo had no spare enclosures for a lioness; all that was available was a barren cage 7m x 7m.

Dr. Mohammed Ali Reza Khan, Director of the Zoo, reported that she didn't eat for two days. He said judging from her aggressive, terrified state, she had obviously come from the wild recently.

Born Free now had to organize the air lift of the lioness to South Africa. The paperwork was a nightmare but eventually everything was completed, with the help of many friends in the UAE. The lioness left at 5am, she was loaded into a crate and accompanies by a vet throughout, she began her long journey. Born Free would like to thank the staff of Emirates Airline for their help in making certain everything ran smoothly. She arrived in Johannesburg in the early evening and transferred to a South African Airways plane to Port Elizabeth. Shamwari staff were there to greet them and they began their journey by road.

Initially the lioness was reluctant to leave her crate and enter her new spacious enclosure. Eventually she explored her new surroundings and has settled in nicely. The enclosure is large, with lots of cover and she can here male Lions roaring at night. She is eating well and hopefully in the not too distant future she will be released into an enclosure with other lions. However, this will be a slow process.

Shamwari is an excellent game reserve, that has large enclosures for lions that have at some time been in captivity. Trying to get captive lions back into the wild is a complex and time-consuming job, fraught with difficulty. It will probably not be possible to get this lioness back into the true wild, but she should have a long and fulfilled life within a pride of captive lions in huge natural looking enclosures.

Please note that this story was adapted from a much longer article from the Born Free Foundation.

Steve James

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New destination planned for the ENHG!

As member are well aware, Allestree and Arun undertake a tremendous amount of work on members behalf, organizing field trips. They are always looking for new destinations and with the announcement on 28th May this year that scientists have discovered tremendous amounts of frozen ice on Mars, they needed no further encouragement! The ENHG is pleased to be the first non-governmental organization to venture into space.

They have organized the foray (which I am sure will be out of this world) for 1st April 2005. Space on the transport is extremely limited and ENHG members are advised to book early, to avoid disappointment. There are one or two booking conditions attached:

  • Only fully paid up members of the ENHG can participate
  • All photographs that might be taken of extra-terrestrial life are the property of the ENHG and not the photographer. (We hope to feature the best submissions in a future edition of Focus).
  • Allestree and Arun accept no responsibility for members safety.
  • No pets are allowed (please note Molly and Keith). This is to stop the spread of earth life forms from being alien life forms in space or on Mars.
  • Members must pay their own fare, the ENHG cannot sponsor any individual for this venture.
  • Please note that no members of 'boy bands' or 'supermodels' can participate. This is to make sure that this serious scientific venture is not compromised by any outside influence and that bona fide members of the ENHG are not distracted from their work.
  • All participants on this venture must be certified and agree to attend 'The Martian Life-forms Ball' (yes, you have guessed, its fancy dress) which will be the major fund raising event of the year. Participants must not be photographed at this event, as all photographic rights have been sold to the National Enquirer and News of the World publications by Charles Laubach as part of our corporate sponsorship drive.
  • When on Mars, please listen very carefully to all safety instructions issued by your leaders. This is difficult because of the size and weight of the helmets, we know, but please don't be tempted to remove the helmet!
  • Do not wander off alone. This is to ensure that no one member finds alien life and claims credit for it. All alien life seen, must be verified by a written description and sent to Colin Richardson in Dubai. He is the only person suitably qualified to judge such descriptions, as he was abducted by alien life forms many years ago and only returned to earth recently. He is the recognized expert on the subject.
  • Faking finds is discouraged, there should be no repetition of what happened at the recent Inter-Emirates Weekend when human bones were passed off as camel bones!
  • Any life forms found, should be checked carefully against any of Peter Hellyer's publications. Any match found should be reported immediately to the ENHG ethics committee.
  • One last thing. I have to remind members that while on Mars, to behave in such a way as to bring credit both on our planet and the ENHG in particular. After all, we may be watched! The last thing we want are silly members antics appearing on 'The Goon Show'.

Please reserve your place on this important excursion by contacting Allestree or Arun at the next ENHG meeting and signing the indemnity form which will be available at the front of the hall.

I wish you all well in your endeavours. Unfortunately I cannot attend, as this date clashes with the annual hair washing party held at Richard Perry's house, and I feel that he really needs my support.

Finest regards

Ivor bin Had

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Some locations ENHG might be going to this Summer.

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Twitch It Guide

This short article is a brief round up of the most important ornithological activity in May. It is based upon Simon Aspinall and Peter Hellyer's Twitcher's Guide, which may be found on the Internet or received by e-mail.

On 1st May a walk around the Health & Fitness Club and Mushrif Palace Gardens produced a nice male Golden Oriole, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Tree Pipits, Whinchat and Red-backed Shrike.

The next day at Al Wathba Fields a fine adult male Montagu's Harrier was quartering the area, other good records included 66 Pacific Golden Plovers, 2 Collared Pratincole, Barn Owl, 6 European Nightjar, 3 European Roller, Whinchat, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike and 5 Ortolan Bunting.

Observers repeated the visit the next day and found a stunning White-winged Black Tern in full summer plumage gracing the fields.

On 10th May a Red-rumped Swallow was found at Al Wathba, which is a late record, with 12 Marsh Warblers.

A visit to Mushrif Palace Gardens on 12th produced 2 Pale Martins (first record for Abu Dhabi Island), 27 Marsh Warblers, 4 Willow Warblers and a Common Whitethroat. Two days later the same area yielded an additional 2 Sedge Warblers and an Upcher's Warbler.

On 15th a few more migrants arrived: 2 Nightingales, White-throated Robin, 3 Sedge, 18 Marsh and 30 Willow Warblers were notable. Khalidiya Spit on the same dat held similar species: 2 Nightingales, 3 Common Redstart, 26 Marsh, 46 Willow and 3 Sedge Warblers. 22 Spotted Flycatcher and 5 Red-backed Shrike were typical of this time of year.

The very next day many more birds were in evidence and a wander around many of the city's parks and gardens produced: 2 Golden Orioles, 3 Red-backed and 2 Lesser Grey Shrikes, Indian Roller, Grey Wagtail, 5 Nightingale, 7 Redstart, 8 Whinchat, 84 Marsh, 2 Blyth's Reed Warblers, 26 Sedge, 1 Great Reed, 1 Upcher's, 5 Common Whitethroat and 184 Willow Warblers. There were also 29 Red-backed Shrike, 3 Golden Orioles and 113 Spotted Flycatchers. A Sooty Gull was off the Sheraton Hotel.

The weekly inspection of Al Wathba on 17th produced Montagu's Harrier, Collared Pratincole, Short-toed Lark, 18 Whinchat, 4 Red-backed, 8 Lesser Grey Shrikes and plenty of Spotted Flycatchers out in the open fields. The same day observers in Abu Dhabi had one of the biggest falls of migrants every seen on the island: a Thrush Nightingale, 2 Nightingales, 3 Common Redstarts, 6 Whinchat, 213 Marsh Warblers, 15 Sedge, 2 Great Reed, 1 Upcher's, 1 Barred, 1 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warblers, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Common Whitethroat and 208 Willow Warblers! Other species included 24 Red-backed Shrikes, 3 Lesser Grey Shrikes, 3 Golden Orioles, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Whinchat and a late Northern Wheatear. Further migrants were also recorded on Khalidiya Spit at the same time.

A look around Al Wathba Fields on 24th produced 2 Kestrel, Cream-coloured Courser, 9 European Swallows, 2 Whinchat and 2 Red-backed Shrikes. This proved to be the tail-end of the migration period in the Abu Dhabi area. But what an exciting time it was!

Steve James

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18th June - Red Sea Rift - Underwater Video - Simon Aspinall
2nd July - Water Resource of the UAE - Mike Brooks (ERWDA)
3rd September - Reptiles of the UAE & Oman - Drew Gardner
17th September - Desert Safety - Charles Laubach
1st October - Cattle, soil, plants and ants! The northern Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico, USA - Amrita de Soyza

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ENHG members in Abu Dhabi during the summer should feel free to participate in the four to five outings that the group will be running.

The schedule is being put together by the Excursion Committee, but there will be a mix of day and overnight trips planned. As in previous years, all trips will leave from the Musalla Al Eid parking lot in Abu Dhabi.

For details, come to the June & July ENHG meetings, sign up, and provide E-mail contact as well as other details. Alternatively, call Arun Kumar (Tel: 4451639, Mobile: 050-6150328), Allestree Fisher (Tel: 6775717), Simon Aspinall (Tel: 4436393) or Charles Laubach (Tel: 6275134, Mobile: 050-4428596). Everyone who signs up will be notified as soon as the schedule is finalized.

It has been our experience that a fair amount of activity can be done in the summer, notwithstanding the heat. The secret lies in pacing yourself, allowing for frequent stops for rest and rehydration, and (on the weekends) camping at high altitude.

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Schedule of 2002 Summer Outings

  • Trip 1: Wadi Qahfi - Day trip. Begins at the meeting place, 8:00 a.m., Friday, 5 July 2002.
  • Trip 2: Khulaybiyya - Overnight. Meet at the meeting place at 12:00 noon on Thursday, 11 July 2002.
  • Trip 3: Ras Al Khaimah "high road" - Day trip. Meet at the meeting place at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, 19 July 2002.
  • Trip 4: Jebel Rawdah - overnight. Meet at the meeting place at 12:00 noon on Thursday, 25 July 2002.

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Committee members

Simon Aspinall (Chairman)
Richard Perry (Deputy Chairman)
Wafa Morda (Secretary)
Hazim al Chalabi (Membership Secretary)
Peter Hellyer (editor of Tribulus)
Charles Laubach (Member at large)
Arleen Edwards (Sales)
Andrew Twyman (Sales)
Arun Kumar (Treasurer)
Dick Hornby (Member at large)
Ingrid Barcelo
Allestree Fisher
Drew Gardner

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Corporate Sponsors of the ENHG 2002

The following companies are supporting the ENHG's conservation efforts in the region. Each company has made a commitment, each has made a difference and the environment thanks them all. We hope you, as ENHG members will in turn support these companies whenever you can.

Al Fahim Group
Al Sayegh Richards Butler
Emirates Holdings
Hyder Consulting Middle East Limited
Jashanmal National Company
Mohammed Bin Masaood & Sons
Nama Development Enterprises
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
Ready Mix Abu Dhabi Limited
Simmons & Simmons
Trowers & Hamlins
Union National Bank

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Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan