June, 2024

New species added to global list of invertebrates after discovery in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI- A new species has been added to the global list of invertebrates after it was unexpectedly discovered on Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, during regular seasonal wildlife trapping carried out by researchers at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD). The metallic-colored Cuckoo Wasp (Hedychridium anithaae) measures just under 4 mms and has now been added to the list of hundreds of invertebrates already recorded on the reserve.

“This discovery further enhances Al Wathba Wetland Reserve’s status as a biodiversity hotspot that must remain protected. The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi is proud of this discovery and will continue to ensure the effective management and monitoring of species, water quality and vegetation on the reserve,” said Dr. Shaikha Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.

The species has been named Hedychridium anithaae, in honor of the scientist that discovered it, Dr. Anita Saji, Assistant Scientist at EAD. 

Dr. Saji, who led the team and made the discovery, said: “This discovery indicates how much remains both unknown and unexplored from Abu Dhabi’s biodiversity. To have this species named after me is a big honour and we are already preparing for further study of its biology,” said Dr. Saji.

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve (45 minutes away from Abu Dhabi and covers a total area of 5 km?) was declared a protected area by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1998. Sheikh Zayed’s vision was to provide a suitable habitat for migratory birds and a breeding area for the Greater flamingo. The reserve has been managed by EAD ever since. 

As a result of its protected’ status, Al Wathba has since become a safe breeding haven for the Greater Flamingo, which bred successfully for the first time on the reserve in 1998. Today, the reserve supports a rich variety of wildlife including 238 species of invertebrates, 11 mammals, 10 reptiles and more than 250 species of birds. The reserve is also rich in plant species, with 37 species having been documented. 

In 2013, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve was recognised internationally and declared as a Ramsar site, the first in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. With this recognition, this site joins a prestigious list of over 2,000 other internationally recognised wetlands around the world.-WAM

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