Qatar, August 2023: From hosting humble migration hubs for flamingos to facilitating safe nesting areas for sea turtles, the wildlife scenes in Qatar create a compelling spectacle for its visitors. Qatar’s diverse ecosystems provide an ideal environment, a wide range of wildlife species that flourish in warmer temperatures in and around the country’s terrains.
Here are some of the noteworthy wildlife attractions.
The Arabian Oryx, Qatar’s national animal, which has long spear-like horns and sharp and contrasting patterns, is one of four species of antelope that exist in harsh desert environments and is native to the Arabian Peninsula. Various oryx species roam freely over the Arabian Peninsula, including the Arabian oryx, East African oryx, and Gemsbok, to name a few. The Al-Maha Sanctuary, also known as the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, is where oryxes are bred in Qatar, and a tour of the sanctuary will let tourists comprehend and appreciate these magnificent creatures.
Hawksbill turtle spotting
Travellers can experience turtle spotting at the pristine shores of Fuwairit Beach in Qatar. The idyllic location of the beach has grown in popularity over the last decade due to the inhabitation of three different kinds of sea turtles that dwell in the region’s waters, particularly the gorgeous hawksbill turtle. This turtle feeds on a variety of marine delicacies found here, making it their preferred breeding spot in the country. These amber-colored shelled turtles return year after year to nest on the region’s coasts, presenting a captivating spectacle of emerging hatchlings.
Whale shark aggregation
Every year, Qatar experiences one of the largest gatherings of hundreds of whale sharks on the country’s northeast coast, making for an enthralling sight to behold. Whale sharks, despite their intriguing name, pose minimal harm to humans, whether they are spectators or divers. They meander in the warm and shallow sea waters of Qatar’s northern beaches, around 145 kilometres from Doha, the capital city. Whale sharks can be found in schools of 100-150 fish at a time.
Falcons, the pride of Qatar
Falcons are birds of prey with hook-beaked beaks and acute vision. They are classified as hawk family species with strong talons. They are unquestionably an important part of Qatar’s rich tradition and culture and are honoured as the country’s national bird. Falconry is a historic art, from the times of the Bedouin tribes where the raptor is highly trained and would hunt down migratory birds for food. The bond created between the bird and its trainer always results in a great hunting partnership. Saker and Peregrine are the most popular hunters on the list; having been routinely captured, tamed, and readied for the traditional hunt, they are being sold at falcon markets for prices ranging from QAR 30,000 to over a million Qatari riyal.
Qatar, a natural habitat for Arabian Oryx and Gazelles, is also home to some incredible marine and bird animal migrations that are highly recommended. From November to April, visitors can catch a glimpse of the Greater flamingo, the largest living species in the flamingo family, averaging 110–150 cm tall and weighing 2–4 kg, at various spots along Qatar’s 563-kilometer coastline. Al Thakira Mangrove Forest, one of Qatar’s natural wonders, is a favourite resting spot for these elegant birds. Al Thakira is approximately 50 kilometers north of Doha, near the city of Al Khor, and is one of Qatar’s oldest and largest mangrove reserves, rich in biodiversity and a green oasis in an otherwise desert area.
The world’s second-largest population of dugongs lives in Qatar, with herds of 600-700 dugongs recorded in Qatar’s waters just recently. Dugongs may live in the sea, but they are not fish. They are marine mammals, and it’s believed they made their first appearance in the waters of the Arabian Gulf approximately 7,500 years ago. Dugongs play an important role in the environment surrounding Qatar. Because they are categorised as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), careful research is being conducted to guarantee they do not become extinct.