Environmental awareness in Jordan is increasing rapidly. Jordan is home to a network of Nature Reserves which are designed to represent a cross-section of the different indigenous eco-systems here.
So far, five nature reserves have been set up out of a total of twelve planned. These offer visitors a chance to experience some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, including the spectacular sandstone cliffs of Dana, the flowing streams of Mujib, the oak woodlands of Zubia, the desert grassland of Shaumari and the marshes of Azraq.
The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature
RSCN is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization of international standing, devoted to the conservation of Jordan’s wildlife and natural environment.
It was created in 1966 under the patronage of His Majesty the late King Hussein and has been given responsibility for protecting Jordanian wildlife and wild places. It has established major protected areas representing the best habitats (and scenery) in Jordan and has an active re-introduction program for endangered species.
Like many voluntary organizations, however, RSCN must raise most of its own income. Recently it has been opening parts of its nature reserves for controlled tourism in order to provide additional income to help support its conservation program. By joining one of our special interest tours you will be helping RSCN to protect the wildlife of Jordan
Shaumari Reserve was created in 1975 as a breeding center for endangered or locally extinct wildlife. It is home to some of the rarest species of animals in the Middle East. In this small 22 square km reserve, you can find the Arabian oryx, ostriches, gazelles and onagers. These animals are rebuilding their populations in a safe haven, protected from the hunting and habitat destruction that nearly wiped them out. Shaumari represents one of the greatest success stories in the international fight against wildlife extinction. Many different countries have shown their support by donating wildlife species, conducting breeding programs, and helping to establish Shaumari as a suitable new home for their animals. Visitors to Shaumari have an opportunity to see the living results of this global cooperation. The oryx can be seen roaming freely in the desert grasslands and the ostriches, gazelles and onagers can be observed in their enclosures. Shaumari’s breeding enclosures provide a small “zoo” for visitors, making the reserve a popular spot for Tourism.
Mujib Nature Reserve
Mujib Nature Reserve surrounds Wadi Mujib, a deep and majestic canyon which cuts through rugged highlands and drains into the Dead Sea. Most of the reserve consists of rocky ravines and cliffs with sparse, desert vegetation. Seasonal streams flow through many of the wadis, supporting luxurious aquatic plants in the river beds. The reserve was created in 1987 and is the second largest reserve in Jordan, extending over 212 square kms. It contains a large enclosure which is being used to breed the Nubian ibex for reintroduction into the wild.
Zubia Nature Reserve
Zubia Nature Reserve is located in the Ajlun Highlands, an extension of a long valley. It lies in the hill country with a Mediterranean climate, dominated by open woodlands of oak and pistachio. Wadi Zubia nature reserve was established in 1988 and a captive-breeding program for the roe deer was initiated. The rich greenery of Zubia’s 12 square km reserve has made it a popular spot for picnickers and hikers. Visitor services, however, are few at present. There is a wilderness campsite located near the Eshtafeena station with two hiking trails leading to it.
Azraq Wetland Reserve
Azraq is a unique wetland oasis located in the heart of the arid Jordanian desert. It contains several pools, seasonally flooded marshlands and a large mudflat, known as Qa’ al Azraq. A variety of birds flock to the reserve each year, stopping for a short rest along their migration routes, staying within the protected areas of the wetland. A small wetland reserve (12 square km) was established in 1978 in the southern part of the oasis. At that time, the wetland contained large areas of permanent marshlands and several deep spring-fed pools.
Unfortunately, many of these areas have dried up because of massive extraction of groundwater from the oasis. The best time to visit Azraq is in the winter or early spring. Winter rains create pools and marshes in the reserve, which continue to attract many seasonal species of birds. The success of a bird-watching visit depends largely on the amount of water that has accumulated in the reservoir.