Bulletin 33 - November 1987: Comments


(The following appeared on page 1 of the November 1987 edition of the Bulletin.)

The Emirates Natural History Group (Abu Dhabi) is experiencing yet another period of flux with stalwarts departing and first-timers arriving. We have seen it all several times and I am no longer surprised at having to review Committee names every time the Bulletin goes to press. And some events pass me by. Having sung Peter Hellyer’s praises in last issue’s “obituary”, on the presumed date of his departure from Abu Dhabi, I now find myself in the happy position of welcoming him back into the fold.

Those interested in conservation matters (why else did you join the ENHG?) must have been surprised and disappointed to learn this summer that "The United Arab Emirates has decided to withdraw from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), effective from the end of January 1988, the first member to leave the Convention since its inception 12 years ago. The UAE has served as a major loophole for rhino horn, African ivory and Indian reptile skins, and has shown little interest in implementing the convention. In November 1985 the CITES Secretariat Recommended that all CITES members discontinue illegal ivory that was passing through the country." (Oryx, July1987, p.184). Some detective work by Peter Hellyer has established that the blame is to be laid at the door of as yet unknown traders in Dubai, who are using that city for a lucrative entrepot trade. The UAE is receiving adverse international press publicity on the issue, plus some diplomatic pressure. This seems individuals can circumvent Government policy until the problem is raised by outside authorities. We are assured that the Government is taking steps to rectify the situation.

As a reminder of the Government’s usually positive approach to conservation, Abu Dhabi Municipality has been instructed to limit disruption to the Eastern Lagoon area as much as possible while a road extension and sewage line are being laid. The mangrove a road extension and sewage line are being laid. The mangrove areas, already designated a wetlands reserve, will be untouched.

This issue I hope contains articles of broad interest plus some serious recordings in line with ENHG objectives. I was particularly fortunate to be on leave when the Oman Wahiba Sand Sea Symposium was held in London in October for the occasion enabled me to meet for the first time some of the personalities who are included Michael Gallagher of the Muscat Natural History Museum, Prof. Willy Buttiker, who has done so much in Saudi Arabia and now Oman, and Tom Cope of Kew Gardens, who has been largely responsible for the identification of the ENHG’s collection of grass specimens.

It is pleasing to include an article from the Al Ain Group in this issue. Perhaps this will spur on other contributors from Al Ain and elsewhere, for though we are based in the Federal capital, we aim to cater for the country as a whole.


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