Articles/Aruq Bani M'aradh Reserve: Protecting vulnerable wildlife

Aruq Bani M'aradh Reserve: Protecting vulnerable wildlife

محمية عروق بني معارض لتنمية الحياة الفطرية

01 FEB 2021

Source: Abeer Al-Amoudi

Saudi Arabia is home to many diverse nature reserves, including Aruq Bani Ma'arid that is located on the western edge of the Empty Quarter. Under the supervision of the Saudi Wildlife Authority, it extends over an area of 12,787 square kilometers, reaching the Tuwaiq Mountain and Al-Sha'ab plains.

Although the local climate is hot and dry with rare rainfall, the reserve is nevertheless home to diverse wildlife and wonderful desert landscapes.


The reserve features varied terrain and natural habitats such as high sand dunes and calcareous plateaus. It is divided into three sections, with the main area dedicated to grazing and allowing animals to hunt each other. Compared to other areas of the Empty Quarter, the reserve is rich in vegetation with 106 plant species including perennial herbs and legumes.


The reserve was home to the Arabian Oryx and mountain gazelle before they became extinct in 1970. However, animals that can still be seen in Aruq Bani Arid include the following:

  • · fox
  • · sand cat
  • · wild rabbit
  • · Ethiopian hedgehog
  • · Jesman gerbil
  • · Egyptian jerboa
  • · desert lizard
  • · snakes
  • · wild dogs

In addition, 104 species of birds have been recorded in the reserve.

The National Center for Wildlife Development selected Aruq Bani Ma'arid to be the first model reserve in the Kingdom. It has utilized modern technologies such as drones for monitoring, environmental surveys and studies. Other initiatives for the reserve include harnessing renewable energy, installing environmental sanitation controls, developing an ecotourism program and adopting advanced management plans.