The wildlife reserve (formerly the Arabian Oryx reserve) was declared a reserve by virtue of the Royal decree No. 94/4 on 8/1/1994 having its surface area adjusted by virtue of the Royal Decree No.2007/11 along with changing its name into the Wildlife Reserve in Al Wusta Governorate by virtue of the Royal Decree No.2011/79. The surface area of the reserve has currently reached 2824.3 Km2.. The Wildlife Reserve lies in Al Wusta Governorate and it is characterized with the existence of Al Huqf cliff which is separated from the hills in the Far East by a depression which is a wide land of marshes including marshes called Al Huqf depression. The reserve is home to many wildlife species most important of which are the Arabian Oryx which were returned to its natural habitat in 1982. The Nubian Ibex, the Lynx, the Arabian and Sand dear, the sand cat, the houbara bustard and many other animals with wide spread of Acacia tortilis: (Simr), the Ghaf tree and Acacia ehrenbergiana.
Reserve establishment objectives:
-Protection of biodiversity and ecosystems.
-Protection of important Human and archaeological, historical and geological features.
-Improvement of the economic, social and cultural conditions of the local population through awareness and environmental education programs and involvement of the community in environmental activities
-Promotion of Eco-tourism
Characteristic climate of the reserve:
Physical resources of the reserve:
The geology of the wildlife reserve is characterized with flat plains, sand dunes, high hills and rocky slopes. The Geological history of Oman invokes special indications in Al Huqf area .The huge Glaciated rock in (Al Khalita) , represents a historical era where Oman was part of Junwana continent during during the Great Ice Age. Fossils of petrified trees on the banks of a dry ancient river indicate the remnants of tropical forests. Whereas, coral fossils in Siwan are dated back to an era when the sea waters covered the area and the nozzle (flame) is arrapently a witness to the significant impact of the fall of meteoric rock.
There are 12 type of local trees in the reserve including Acacia tortilis: (Simr), the Ghaf tree , Acacia ehrenbergian,the caralumma, the Nannorrhops ritchiana, and other local trees.
Acacia tortilis: (Simr) trees spread throughout the reserve however Ghaf tree and Acacia ehrenbergian grow in the sand depressions known as “Hila”. These trees provide appropriate shelter for birds and source of nectarines for insects. The hole where water collects near Wādī Dhuruf, known as (Batihat Haymat) including a unique tree group of submerged trees of the type Cordia Sinesis.
Wild mammals: wild life in the reserve among the most diversified in the Arabian Peninsula. Jiddat al Ḩarāsīs is home for all herbivore animals as food is relatively available and it is also considered an open hill allowing desert hare to see the coming predators. There also live the red fox, the Ethiopian hedgehog. Further, the Arabian Oryx amongst the most important mammals existing in the reserve in addition to the Arabian deer which abundantly exists throughout the reserve. However, the Arabian Goitered Gazelle or the sand gazelle less prevalent knowing that it prefers sandy areas north and west the reserve. The Nubian Ibex lives in Huqf depression and it prefers to live on eminent rocks and steeply sloping cliffs where water and plant cover are available. The Arabian wolf, the lynx, the striped hyena, the wildcat (Felis silvestris), and the honey badger live also in Huqf.
Reptiles: Almost 21 types of reptiles has been identified in the reserve including Saw scaled viper, cerates, the Monitor Lizard and Spiny tailed lizard.
Birds: almost 50 type of birds, mostly 50 types of migratory birds thanks to the fact that the reserve lies in migration corridors of many birds. In the spring, a huge number of migratory birds pass including the European roller; many of them go back to the south in autumn. Some birds which normally live on the coast, such as the Great flamingos and English plover visit the reserve after rainfall. Almost 30 type of birds live in the reserve over the year such as golden eagles, a number of Houbara Bustard and the Spotted Flycatcher
Water management within the reserve:
In fact there is no water resource in the reserve however there are small water seepages in the slopes. When the rain falls, water gathers in the surface cavities and part of it permeates under the ground level through rock holes after that water appears in water seepage and ground water apprer in the surface in the Quhf. The only water source before 1956 was fog water. Oil companies have dag out water wells in both Hima and Al-Ajaiz and since that time the Government has built desalination plants in the reserve.
Population: people in the reserve are traditional shepherds and camel herders Bedouins. Yet , since arrival of oil exploration teams in 1955 mainly since the modern renaissance in 1970 , a continuous change has occurred to people’s life styles.
Human heritage (archeological areas): The are signs that ancient man settled in Oman since 100000 to 300000 year as we can see triangle rocks places, which are lines of vertical stones placed ingroups of three stones surrounding campfire sites. It is believed that these monuments are dated back to 4000 years and it is believed to be associated with pre-history rituals. Excavations have shown that they are not sites for burial of the dead.
Human activities practiced inside the reserve:
Sheep and camels grazing only.
-Instructions to visitors
-How to reach the reserve
Road leading to it from the capital Muscat