EAD premieres wildlife documentary on Earth Day

ABU DHABI, The Environment Agency � Abu Dhabi, EAD, premiered its ground-breaking documentary “Back to the Wild” depicting the Abu Dhabi-led Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Programme, on Sunday night at the Emirates Palace to an audience of VIPs, government officials, ambassadors and ministers to mark Earth Day.

The event was attended by Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Falah Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Community Development Department, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Managing Director of Dolphin Energy Limited, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD’s Secretary-General, and Siddick Abdelkerim Haggar, Chad’s Minister of Environment and Fisheries.

Back to the Wild was produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The documentary follows the journey of Nya, a Scimitar-horned Oryx, and the rest of her herd in what has been described as the world’s most ambitious mammalian species reintroduction programme.

The Scimitar-horned Oryx was declared extinct-in-the-wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2000. Inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and led by the Environment Agency � Abu Dhabi, the programme aims to create a self-sustaining herd of over 500 Scimitar-horned Oryx in the 77,950-km2 reserve in its former range in Chad. The programme has been enthusiastically supported by EAD’s partners: the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, the Sahara Conservation Fund, the Smithsonian Institution and the Zoological Society of London.

Following the screening, a panel discussion was held with Chadian Minister, John Newby, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sahara Conservation Fund, Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, and Justin Chuven, Unit Head � Ex- Situ Terrestrial Conservation Programmes at EAD.

Speaking on this occasion, Dr. Al-Zeyoudi said, “Since the UAE was founded by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan the Man of the Environment it has shown unwavering commitment to environmental preservation and natural resources protection through balanced consumption. This has formed the cornerstone of the country’s drive towards sustainability, which was adopted as the main pillar in the targets of the UAE Vision 2021.

“Our pledge for balanced consumption and sustainability is evolving side-by-side with the UAE’s commitment to protecting endangered species. One of the UAE’s most prominent successes in this field is the reintroduction of the almost extinct Arabian Oryx, which represents a cultural symbol of the natural heritage in the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme was launched in 2007, under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”

The minister went on to say that what was witnessed as a result of the Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Programme is a new peak in the UAE’s efforts to protecting wildlife and ensuring endangered species avoid extinction.

Speaking at the premiere, Razan Al Mubarak said, “The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE, was considered one of the world’s greatest conservationists. His environmental vision long preceded the present-day global conservationists’ movement and his passion for nature was unparalleled. Under his leadership, some of the most impactful wildlife release programmes in the world became a reality. Examples of this include the Sheikh Mohammed Arabian Oryx Release Programme and the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme, both of which EAD has been implementing for several years. The Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Programme is yet another initiative inspired by his legacy and today, it is regarded as the most ambitious mammalian species reintroduction programme in the world.

“This programme highlights what can be achieved through commitment, dedication and cross-border cooperation to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable species. It is our hope that, through this documentary, others will be inspired to take up more species reintroduction efforts. It is also our hope that the programme’s working practices, infrastructure and innovative technology solutions may directly influence similar species reintroduction efforts across the world in the future. We are very proud that now, in Abu Dhabi, we have the scientific expertise and experience to lead conservation efforts of this magnitude at the global level.”

The 30-minute documentary will air to the public on Quest Arabiya, on 28th April.

Source: Emirates News Agency