Bulletin 40 - March 1990: Mammal Recorder's Report for 1989

Mammal Recorder's Report for 1989

After a substantial increase in reports of mammal sightings during 1988, I regret to report that there have again been very few during last year. As Recorder (albeit interim), I shoulder part of that blame, but unless members supply records, there's not much that can be done.

With the Group computer now in operation in the workroom, we plan to start putting all the old mammal records on disk, identifying them not only by date and species but also by area, in accordance with the map developed for the Atlas of Breeding Birds of Arabia project. This will ensure that our records are preserved for posterity.

The reports received are summarized below:

Arab Red Fox Vulpes vulpes arabica
This is one of the more widespread large mammals of the Emirates, with records of live and dead animals and of tracks and holes in use having come from Khor Kalba, Dibba, the Suweihan Road, Wadi Hadf (north of Hatta), Sha'am (near the Ras al Khaimah and Musandam peninsula), and deep in the desert at Shah, as well as from Nuway' across the border in Oman.
The species can clearly survive well away from mankind, even if it also has adapted to the new food resources provided by villages, towns, oil installations and rubbish tips. It will probably be the first choice from our mammal records to be entered on the computer, in an effort to plot distribution, which probably covers the whole of the country.
Gordon's Wild Cat Felis sylvestris gordoni
No sightings in the wild were reported this year. However, member Marijcke Jongbloed has continued her successful efforts to establish breeding stocks abroad from her homegrown ones, shipping a pair to the San Diego Zoo in California (which produced three kittens in August) and sending two males to the Animal Breeding Center in Muscat. Two further males are to be sent to the Al Areen Wildlife Park in Bahrain.
Caracal Lynx Caracal caracal schmitzi
No reports of this member of the cat family have come in from the wild, or of the even more endangered Arabian Leopard. However, Dr. Reza Khan of the Dubai Zoo reported on December 29th than an injured male had been delivered to the Zoo by Sheikh Butti al Maktoum, who had been given it by a citizen who had captured it in the mountains behind Ras al Khaimah, where a small population is known to exist. The Zoo already has three captive females, and Dr. Khan hopes that if the male recovers and adapts to captivity, he will be able to start a breeding program.
One unidentified species was reported from Wadi Mayhah, in the Omani mountains, on the night of March 23/24 by Gary Feulner.
One, presumably an escapee, was recorded in the gardens of the Hatta Fort Hotel on January 29 by Gary Feulner.
Wolf Canis lupus arabs
Two tantalizing records suggest that the Arabian Wolf may still be a resident of the UAE.
One, from DNHG member Roy Green, came from the Ramtha rubbish tip in Sharjah in March. Familiar with the difference between dog and wolf pugmarks, Roy was insistent that the animal he saw was a wolf, but was unable to take any pictures. The other came from the north end of the Hatta-Mahdah road, just inside Oman, again from Gary Feulner. The animal, which Gary concedes may possibly have been a wolf-dog mongrel, was seen on two successive weekends, on January 24 and January 31 near the decaying carcass of a camel.
Feral Donkeys
At least two were seen by Gary in Wadi Mayhah (Oman) on October 27 with evidence of fresh dung in the wadi - the first time that Gary, a frequent visitor to the spot, had seen them.
Mouse Mus musculus
Several were seen during the ENHG study trip to Qarnein Island on April 20-21, possibly a sub-specie, though none were captured for examination. No traces of other mammals were seen.
One specimen was sent in from Shah, south of Liwa, during the course of the year.
Jerboa tracks, of unidentified species, were seen around a campsite used by Bish Brown on Shuweihat Island in December, although the animals avoided his carefully placed mammal traps.
On December 25, a five-toed jerboa was found run over on the road near Mirha, probably a Chessman's Jerboa. On either side, the road is flanked by sabkha, so it seems probably, according to the recorder, Bish Brown, that it must have made its home in the central reservation, a pretty constricted spot, one would think, but perhaps evidence of the adaptability of these small animals.
Cape Hare Capus lepensis
Again several records came from different areas, including the Suweihan Road and along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai Road. One was reported from the West Liwa area at the end of December 1988. Another good case for computerized mapping - will distribution match that of the Red Fox?
Dugong Dugon dugong
Occasional reports of sightings have continued to come from offshore, with Chris van Riet providing a number of them. He and a colleague saw one adult and one young file miles northwest of Bahrani Island on September 2 and another adult with two young in the same area on September 6. On March 7, Maarten Verhage found a decomposing specimen on Halat and Bahrani, whose skeleton has been recovered and awaits final cleaning and assembly. Further west, 10 to 15 skeletons were found on the beach at Harmiya, 45 kilometers west of Tarif, and another dead specimen at Sila'a, all on December 2 by Bish Brown.
As usual, a number of sightings have been made offshore, of both bottle-nosed and hump-backed dolphins (and many more must have been seen that have not been reported).
Of note was a family party of 12 Bottle-Nosed Dolphins Rursiops truncates seen on November 17 north of Bahrani Island by Rob and Ann Cornish, including two young. Two others were injured, one having had its dorsal fin torn off and the other having a gash in its dorsal fin. The result of 'natural' accident or from diving too close to propellers?
A mother with one young was seen off Bahrani on March 3.
Hump-Backed Dolphins Sousa chinensis have been recorded from, among other locations, off Bahrani (eight on March 3, Chris van Riet), between Dalma and Sir Bani Yas (26 November, Adrian Chapman), and at Shuweihat (seven or eight adults and two or three young) on December 25, Christmas Day, by Bish Brown, Terry Adams and Caroline Fuggle.
Parts of a large baleen whale were washed up on the beach near Jebel Dhanna during the year and are now in the custody of Terry Adams awaiting final cleaning.

Recorders: Terry Adams, Bish Brown, Gary Feulner, Caroline Fuggle, Reza Khan, Omar Marzouqi, Chris van Riet, Cindy and Mick Soffe, Maarten Verhage.

Peter Hellyer


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