What to do if you see a sand cat?

What do you do if you stumble into a sand cat? Wildlife expert Avan Al Dabbagh talks Victoria Bentley through it


Desert animals are cleverer than us. While we sweat in the sunshine, most creatures that live around us are happily asleep underground. “We have highly specialised nocturnal wildlife in the UAE,” says Avan Al Dabbagh of the Emirates Wildlife Society. “Many species are active at night to avoid the heat.”

It’s vital that we remember how important it is to protect and conserve wildlife. One of the main ways animals and plants are disturbed is through off-road driving. Avan explains, “Since nocturnal animals hide during the day in burrows, they can be crashed into by cars. It is important to follow used tracks, and avoid driving over vegetation.”

“Rescuing” wild animals from the desert is also not a good idea. Avan explains that even if you see a baby animal that may look abandoned, their parents may not be far away. The best thing to do is report the observation to a wildlife conservation organisation, such as the EWS-WWF or a naturalists’ association such as the Emirates Natural History Group.

Where to see nocturnal desert animals

Al Ain Zoo, www.alainzoo.ae (03 799 2000).

Arabian Wildlife Centre, www.breedingcentresharjah.com (06 531 1999).

The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, www.thedubaiaquarium.com (800 38224 6255).

Private night desert safari, www.platinum-heritage.com (04 388 4044).

Dubai Safari Park is due to open in 2016, with a nocturnal animals exhibit.

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