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EAD Announces Reopening Of Al Wathba Wetland Reserve On 1st January

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced that the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve will reopen to the public from Friday January 1, 2021 to Friday April 30, 2021.

The reserve was closed in mid-March as a precautionary measure in line with Covid-19 restrictions.

Free to enter, the reserve will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays every week, from 8 am until 6 pm. The latest entry time is 4 pm.

The EAD stressed that visitors must adhere to measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic. They must wear face coverings, keep to safe distances, and follow guidance issued inside the reserve. In addition, visitors must show a negative Covid-19 PCR test for a period not exceeding one month, with the exception of children under 12 years old.

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is one of the first natural reserves to be established in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It was officially declared as a protected area in 1998 by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as it proved to be the ideal habitat for migratory birds and a significant breeding site for the Greater Flamingos.

The reserve is home to more than 260 migratory bird species, including its star attraction the Greater Flamingo, as well as some 230 species of invertebrates, 11 mammals, 10 reptiles, and 35 plant species.

Since its opening to the public in October 2014, Al Wathba has attracted more than 20,000 visitors. Many are bird watchers, photography enthusiasts, and those seeking to learn about the important species found in the reserve. The reserve’s designated walking trails (1.5km and 3km) allow visitors to closely observe its natural habitats and wildlife.

The reserve also includes a visitor centre, a Bird Hide and a viewing platform.

Visitors can expect to encounter fascinating species including the Cuckoo Wasp, Black Fat-tailed Scorpion, Greater Spotted Eagle, Red Fox, Egyptian Spiny-tailed Lizard, Desert Monitor Lizard, Cape Desert Hare, and Purple-blushed Darter.

The reserve is the only site in the Arabian Gulf region where flamingos have been regularly breeding since 2011. EAD researchers discovered three species of invertebrate new to science in the reserve, including a Gasteruptiid Wasp and a type of Cuckoo Wasp.

The reserve was recognised in the 2013 as a Ramsar site - one designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention established by UNESCO.

It was also the first site in the region to be added the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) green list in 2018, joining 40 sites around the world. The reserve was recently nominated for the Middle East’s Responsible Tourism Award.

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