Bulletin 34 - March 1988: Mammal Recorder's Report

Mammal Recorder's Report

by Peter Hellyer

Regrettably, this year has seen an almost complete dearth of records of mammals, and there is consequently little to report. That is not to say, of course, that there are not any mammals around, as tracks in the desert show. There have been tantalising hearsay reports of members seeing foxes near Buraimi in November, sand cats near Liwa early in the year and hares here and there; even foxes in Abu Dhabi gardens. No report forms, however. Probably due to a bit of a hiatus in having a nagging Recorder.

Having taken over as Recorder in mid-December, I see my main task as getting that nagging under way again. Members and their friends are thus urged to report any mammal occurrences during the course of 1988. If record forms cannot be filled in then a brief note, or even a phone call to the Recorder or a committee member, will at least ensure that the information is filed for future reference.

Perhaps the most significant event of 1987 locally was the publication by Motivate Publishing in Dubai of 'Mammals of the Southern Gulf,' by Christian Gross, a former Dubai resident. Copies have been made at a reduced price at Group meetings. It is recommended as a quick guide to all members to have on their bookshelves, or to carry in their cars. It's a nice gift too.

The following records are based on personal observation and of the efforts of stalwarts Bish Brown and Rob Western, plus newspaper reports.

Striped Hyaena (Hyaena hyaena)

One was reported by an Arabic newspaper on Dec.16th to have been seen raiding garbage at Jarn Jafour. The Health Department of Abu Dhabi Municipality were ordered to find it 'dead or alive'. By Dec. 30th they had failed to do either, and no further information has been available. The last confirmed UAE sighting was several years ago, and identification remains suspect. A prominent local bedouin who used to keep four in captivity near Jebel Dhanna 'about 20 years ago' told the Recorder he doubts whether any remain in the wild.

Cape Hare (Lepus capensis)

A. Fresh holes and tracks seen amid desert scrub near Taweela on Sept. 22nd. (PH)

B. One disturbed 30 km inland from Mafraq near the Al Ain road on Nov. 30th. (JNB, RW)

C. Fresh holes and tracks seen at Ad Door, Umm al Qaiwain, Dec. 2nd. (PH)

Ethiopian Hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus)

One decaying carcass was found in Batin Wood, Abu Dhabi, on May 10th. (PH)

Arabian Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes arabica)

A substantial presence of occupied fox holes in sandy banks at Ad Door, Umm al Qaiwain, seen on Dec.9th and 29th. On the first visit, the remains of a disturbed carcass were also seen. (PH)

According to Christian Gross's Mammals of the Southern Gulf', a colony is supposed to be living on Umm al Qaiwain breakwater. Fishermen questioned on Dec. 29th knew of none seen recently. Hearsay suggests that foxes continue to be seen in Abu Dhabi (where some are kept as pets in gardens). Records would be welcome.

Dugong (Dugong dugon)

The carcasses of three were brought into the Abu Dhabi fish souk on Dec. 18th. Subsequent investigations by the observer (JNB) suggest that between seventy and eighty a year are brought into the souk. Some, perhaps most, are caught by local fishermen from Mirfa, operating in the Khor al Bazm, beyond Jebel Dhanna.

No records of live dugong have been received in 1987, though again there is some hearsay evidence. Back-dated records received by the end of January will be incorporated into this report. The 1986 aerial survey showed several hundred in the Khor al Bazm area. Reports from the boating fraternity, please.

Caracal Lynx (Caracal caracal schmitzi)

Newspaper reports suggest these continue to exist in limited numbers in the Hajar Mountains in Ras al Khaimah, where they still fall prey to local hunters.

Naked-Bellied Tomb Bat (Taphozous nudiventris)

Strictly a 1986 record (December) but identified only in 1987. One dead found at the Das Island Power Station was sent to UK for identification. Apparently this is the first recording from such a remote offshore location, though it is said to be fairly common on the mainland. (DH, RW)

Other bat species are known from the UAE, but are pretty much under-recorded. Gross mentions three species: Zayid's Sheath-tailed Bat, the Trident Leaf-nosed Bat and the Mouse-tailed Bat, the latter probably the most common.

DH - Dave Heath
JNB - J.N.B. (Bish) Brown
PH - Peter Hellyer
RW - Rob Western


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