The Arabian Desert is a vast stretch of arid landscape in Western Asia where it occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula, encompassing an area of 2,330,000 square km. The climate is mostly dry with some places receiving rainfall lower than 50 mm annually. The animals that live in the Arabian Desert are well-adapted to live in extreme desert climate. However, human persecution, hunting, and overgrazing by human-bred livestock have greatly reduced the numbers of desert animals like gazelles, jackals, hyenas, and oryx. Many species have thus been bred in captivity and reintroduced in the wild. Here, we discuss the animals that live in the Arabian Desert.
8. Rodents, Rabbits, And Hares -
Jerobas are long-tailed leaping rodents that are found in the Arabian Desert. These animals are well-adapted to live in the desert habitat. Besides the jerobas, other small mammals like mice, rats, porcupines, hares, and rabbits also live in the Arabian Desert and serve as food for the snakes, birds of prey, and mammalian carnivores residing in the desert. These animals usually possess fur color that camouflages them in the desert habitat and protects them from predation.
7. Resident Birds Of The Arabian Desert -
The resident birds in the desert breed from late winter to early spring. Some of the birds which live all year round include lesser bustards, sand grouse, striped larks, and Arabian coursers. These birds are well camouflaged to avoid predators. Birds of prey like eagles, falcons, and vultures also live in the Arabian Desert. The kestrel and ravens are quite common throughout the landscape. The lanner falcons are found in eastern Saudi Arabia, and Najd and the peregrine falcon is found in Asir. The tawny, golden, and white-tailed eagles also inhabit the region. Several species of vultures including the Egyptian vulture and the bearded vulture feed on the carrion of dead animals in the desert. Several species of owls also live in the Arabian Desert.
6. Invertebrates Of The Arabian Desert -
Several species of insects like ants, beetles, termites, fleas, lice, mantids, moths, locusts, etc., are found in the Arabian Desert and act as an important part of the desert food chain. Venomous scorpions, spiders, and ticks are also found in the desert.
5. Baboons -
The hamadyras baboon is found living in large troops in the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. They are found in Asir, a region in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern part. The absence of a large number of natural predators allows these baboons to thrive in the region.
4. Reptiles And Amphibians Of The Arabian Desert -
Several species of reptiles live in the Arabian Desert. A fat-tailed lizard called the dab, monitor lizards, skinks, agamids, collared lizards, and geckos are found in the arid landscape.
Snakes in the Arabian Desert are highly feared as they are mostly venomous in nature. The sand cobra and several species of vipers inhabit the desert and feed on the birds, mammals, amphibians, and lizards of the desert.
A few species of amphibians like toads, newts, frogs, and salamanders are found in the temporary water pools and oases of the desert.
3. Migratory Birds In The Arabian Desert -
Migratory birds follow several routes passing through the Arabian Desert. One route passes through the central Najd and other through the two coasts. Some of the exotic bird species that can be sighted here include warblers, carrion kites, martins, shrikes, larks, bee-eaters, larks, hoopoes, flycatchers, etc. Water birds and wading birds like flamingos, ducks, cranes, herons, and others can be seen feeding on the intermittent lakes in the desert ecosystem.
2. The Herbivores Of The Arabian Desert -
The Arabian Desert and its surrounding areas once housed numerous mammalian species. However, the use of motor vehicles for hunting in the desert led to the rapid decline in populations of these species. Before World War I, gazelles were a common sight in the desert habitat. However, soon indiscriminate hunting rendered the gazelles nearly extinct in the region. Regulation of hunting and establishment of wildlife reserves by the Saudi Government helped to recover the populations of these animals. Other herbivores like the Arabian oryx, a medium-sized antelope, had nearly vanished from the Arabian Peninsula before being reintroduced after captive breeding. The ibex, a wild goat species, is also found in the desert habitat.
1. Arabian Desert Carnivores -
In the desert plains of the Arabian Desert, small carnivores like the civets, sand cats, ratels, and foxes are found. These animals live in territorial isolation in the desert habitat. They feed on small mammals, desert reptiles, and amphibians, etc.
Hyenas and jackals also found in the Arabian desert. The hyenas are usually found in escarpments and places where sheep are herded. Hyenas are efficient scavengers in the desert. Jackals can be sighted in the desert at dusk near water bodies where they arrive to drink water or hunt.