Thursday, May 24, 2007

Arabian leopard faces extinction due to climate change

By Emmanuelle Landais, Staff Reporter
Published: 23/05/2007 12:00 AM (UAE)

Dubai: Plants and animals indigenous to the UAE will be seriously affected by climate change and more efforts must be made to limit loss of natural habitat or changing life cycles, according a UAE-based marine biologist.

According to the Convention on Biodiversity the recently extinct Golden Toad and Gastric Brooding Frog have already been labelled as the first victims of climate change and in the UAE the Arabian leopard, already rare in the mountains, could face a similar fate.

Saif Al Qais, a marine biology professor at the Al Ain UAE University and executive director for environment and development authority in Ras Al Khaimah said climate change could affect certain species here.

International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated every year on May 22 and this year's theme is Biodiversity and Climate Change.

Impacts of global warming on biodiversity already include coral bleaching caused by increased sea temperatures, certain fish species are not reproducing as well as they could while the number of polar bears is dwindling as food becomes harder to find.

"The UAE as a desert country has a variety of animal and plants species that are really endemic to the area and need to be protected," said Al Qais.

"The whole world is concerned about global warming and its negative impact on biodiversity, as well as the impact on the ecosystem and breeding season. The Arabian leopard is indigenous to the UAE but it's become very rare in the mountains," he said.

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