Abu Dhabi, 25 March 2021: The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) today announced that Al Watbha Wetland Reserve will be temporarily closing on Wednesday 31st March until November 2021, due the bird nesting season that started early this year. The agency observed that flamingo nesting began in February, as opposed to March, and they have already recorded 1,000 nests, indicating that the nesting season will be successful.
To protect the nests EAD believes it is vital to close the Reserve, especially with the hot summer months approaching. Furthermore, EAD will also be performing maintenance and adjustments on the infrastructure of Al Wathba Wetland Reserve to improve the facilities and make it a more memorable experience for visitors.
EAD also recorded that five other species of birds started nesting. These include both important migratory and resident species such as: Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Red-wattled Lapwing, Ring Plover and White-tailed Lapwing. These birds are nesting on the ground close to the roads and around the lakes.
Ahmed Alhashmi, Acting Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at EAD said: “We were extremely happy to witness the early flamingo nesting season, which started last month, and to ensure that the nesting season continues successfully we have decided to close Al Watbha Wetland Reserve, as part of our commitment towards the conservation of our bird species and the reserve's biodiversity.”
He added 'The success of the reserve in attracting important birds for nesting is a positive indication of the improvement of conditions and the provision of a suitable environment for the birds to breed. This indicates the sustainability of the ecosystems in the reserve, as well as the good management and protection which enhanced the willing of these species to start nesting and increase their numbers.”
Al Watbha Wetland Reserve has proven to be extremely popular with the number of visitors reaching more than 17,000 since the beginning of January, and it is expected that the total number for the season will reach more than 20,000. The reserve was receiving visitors for two days a week, and this is the highest number of visitors to the reserve since it opened to the public in 2014.
Established in 1998 by the late Sheikh Zayed, Founder of the UAE, the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is a nature reserve consisting of both natural and man-made bodies of water located 40 km southeast of central Abu Dhabi. Covering a total of five square km, the wetlands are comprised of wetlands, salt flats, fossilized sands and dunes, and are densely packed with a variety of animal and plant species.
The reserve is famous for its remarkable flamingo population, which flock to the reserve in their thousands to enjoy the warm weather during the winter months, with some remaining all year round. There are approximately 4,000 flamingos residing on the reserve alone.