Muscat: A number of people have been arrested and weapons seized after shots were fired in a protected wildlife reserve, the Office for Conservation of the Environment said.
In February, two rangers at the Wadi Sareen Nature Reserve in Al Amerat Park were taking a break, when two shots were fired in their direction. One bullet hit their parked car, while another narrowly missed one of the rangers.
The Royal Oman Police (ROP), in collaboration with the Office for Conservation of the Environment in the Diwan Court, arrested the suspects after conducting a thorough investigation.
“This was an inhumane and uncivilised incident, and one cannot fathom the hunting of a safe animal in its natural habitat, and endangering the lives of our loyal staff,” a statement by the office read.
Yasser Al Salami, director general of the Office for Conservation of the Environment, said the perpetrators should receive maximum penalties for their actions.
“We commend the great efforts made by the Royal Oman Police in order to reach the perpetrators, and demand that the judicial authorities not be lenient in the enforcing of strict penalties.”
The investigation finally resulted in the ROP catching the perpetrators, as well as finding the rifles and ammunition they had used for the shooting in February.
“The perpetrators admitted to their wrongful actions at the Wadi Sareen Park, and have been referred to judicial authorities for their heinous act of violating protected wildlife, and attacking the rangers,” the office stated.
Wadi Sareen is home to gazelles and rare Arabian ahrs. The Diwan Court is also in charge of the Arabian Tahr Conservation Project in the area and is putting in place measures to protect the Arabian tahr: a wary, grey-brown mountain goat found in the northern Omani mountains.
The project has been operating successfully since 1975. The Arabian tahr lives at altitudes of above 2,000 metres on mountain cliffs where, unlike the drought tolerant oryx, it is dependent on small freshwater seepages.
Al Salami also thanked the rangers for their continuous efforts and sacrifices made in the line of duty.
“I would like to recognise these rangers, who put their lives at risk every day, and give up much of their time to protect wildlife in this country. They deserve full respect for their dedication in performing this national service, and anyone who is caught attempting to cause them harm will receive maximum penalties.”
“The law is strictly enforced regarding hunting regulations, including using vehicles that are in accordance with regulation. Any violators will be apprehended, and their vehicles will be taken. We will not be lenient with those who violate protected wildlife,” he added.
Al Salami also took an opportunity to appeal to all citizens and residents to unite with wildlife observers and security, and report any suspicious cases of wildlife violations. He urged the community to cooperate with staff, and not to derail their efforts in any way.
“The preservation of living things and wildlife is the responsibility of all, and the staff working in the field of conservation, are part of the fabric of this society, protecting our habitat from harm. Thank you to the ever-watching officers, who protect us and provide security and peace of mind to those who reside in peaceful Oman,” Al Salami said.