Situated about 15 minutes south of Azraq, the Shomari Wildlife Reserve covers 22 square kilometers. The park is open daily from about 07:30 until around 16:00. It can be reached by following a desert road to the western side of the reserve, which is completely encircled by a fence. Numerous species of wildlife, including ostrich, gazelle, wild donkey, Arabian oryx and others inhabit Shomari. While the park has been able to protect these animals from being hunted, the lack of water in this area has caused these species’ habitat to shrink. Shomari’s great success story is Operation Oryx.
This project has attracted worldwide recognition for its reintroduction into the wild of an almost extinct species, the Arabian oryx. With its two straight horns and black face markings, the white oryx once roamed the deserts of Arabia and the Fertile Crescent. Overhunting almost brought the species to extinction, but because of careful management Shomari now boasts around 200 Arabian oryx. The reserve has also fostered 14 ostriches from a single pair, and about 30 gazelles call Shomari home, as well. For more information about Shomari Wildlife Reserve, call the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.