Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
Located at the edge of Jordan’s eastern desert, a few km from Azraq wetland reserve and covering 22 square kilometres, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve’s great success story is the renowned Operation Oryx. The Arabian oryx is an elegant white antelope endemic of the Arabian Peninsula that faced ruthless hunting and almost came to the brink of extinction around 1920. Before its disappearance, international efforts launched a recovery program based on a herd with only tree oryx from Oman that managed to increase its population steadily. In 1975, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature offered opened the Shaumari reserve aiming at reintroducing the animal in the region. The Shaumari program registered an extraordinary success and, in 2002, some oryxes were moved to a special enclosure at Wadi Rum, to gradually reintegrate into their natural habitat. This project has attracted worldwide recognition for its reintroduction into the wild of an almost extinct species, the Arabian Oryx. Numerous species of wildlife, including ostrich, gazelle, wild donkey, and others inhabit this reserve, making it both educational and adventurous for any curious explorer.
Enjoy a short safari inside the 22 sq km perimeter of the reserve, and admire the beautiful and rare animals living in the reserve. The reserve does not only host white oryx, but also gazelles, ostriches, and onagers and is an important stop for the migratory birds. The tours depart from the Visitor Center, where there is an interesting information display board on the endemic wildlife and a small zoo for children. The reserve’s observation tower is ideal for bird watching and spotting the protected animals.
The magnetic charm of Jordan Eastern Desert
To reach the Shaumari reserve and the nearby landmarks (the Azraq Wetland Reserve and the Desert Castles), you will have to travel through the barren, bleak landscape of the Jordan Eastern Desert. This desert comprises 75 percent of Jordan and is located on a plateau that extends through Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, reaching elevations between 600 and 900 meters above sea level.
A distinctive character of the scenery is the black basaltic rocks of volcanic origins that were sprinkled on the plateau thousands of years ago during the eruptions of the Jabal al Arab (Arabs’ mountain) or Jabal al Druz (Drus’ mountain), in Syria. Other characters of the area are the harsh conditions and extreme temperatures. With daily summer temperature, exceeding 40 °C and dry, cold, and windy winter nights, the environment is unwelcoming. The water is also extremely scarce, with ancient underground layers of the Azraq area drastically reduced, and minimal rainfall, averaging less than 50 millimetres annually. Nonetheless, life has always managed to reach the far spots of this remote area. For centuries, the nomadic Bedouins, the masters of the desert, travelled with their caravans across this land to reach the oasis of the desert and ancient Omayyad kings established their hunting lodges to retreat from court life. Migratory birds still fly across this region to reach their hibernating sites.
Along the way to your destination, take your time to stop and immerse yourself in the amazing wilderness landscape. Listen to the stillness of the desert and connect to the immense and boundless scene.