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The massive rocky landscape was captivating as we approach the reserve after a four hours ride from the Dead Sea area. Dana nature reserve is a biosphere reserve that is protected by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and Wild established in 1966. Seven other reserves which represent the four bio- geographical zones in Jordan also benefit from the protection. It is also said to be the largest nature reserve in Jordan covering three hundred and twenty (320) square kilometres.

 

Capital Amman is over two hundred kilometres (200km) away from the reserve. Raed Khawaldeh, the manager of the reserve, who is also one of the eighty five (85) employees of which most are indigenes of Dana village, said they have a sustainable development in place to preserve, make profit and empower locals.

 

We gathered that the reserve is home to about two hundred and fifty (250) species of birds and various animals, such as the threatened Nubian ibex, Syrian sebin, caracal, hyenas, and lesser kestrel. However, during our five hour visit, I did not see a single bird, or any species of animal that were emphasised in the Dana reserve literature; but I did see a number of sheep, donkeys and what appeared to be a domestic dog but could have been one of the species of wolf.

 

It is stated that Dana reserve is also home to one third of the kingdom’s unique trees and plant species. Vegetation types such as Phoenician Juniper, evergreen oak, acacia and rocky sudanian can be found. The Mediterranean Cyprus is hosted there and is believed to be the southernmost place in the world where this grows. Of the hundreds of plant species in Dana, three can be found nowhere else in the world.

 

Khawaldeh also mentioned that they have a new technology in form of a hidden camera that captures footprints and images of new species and mammals that keep increasing in numbers since inception. The reserve has continued to attract more than forty thousand visitors every year, most of who are from Europe. The recommendations of visiting researchers are also considered for sustainable growth.

 

The reserve is constantly dealing with a challenge that includes preventing hunters who would rather feast on the mammals and bird species. Another contributory factor to the problems the reserve faces is inadequate rainfall

 

A Jewellery workshop can also be found at the reserve with local women producing hand crafted silver jewellery. Feras, one of the women who have been working in the workshop for three years commented that the reserve has given her and other women, with no formal education, a sense of belonging. Although Feras would not disclose how much she is being paid but she said the amount enables her to support her household.

 

Dana natural reserve has Arabian tents and exotic Arabic foods and drinks that quench the thirst and hunger of visitors, after an exhaustive but impressive tour of the reserve.

 

My expectations of Dana reserve may have been dashed somewhat due to the fact that I never witnessed seeing many of the species of animals or vegetation that had been quoted in various ways. This is not to say that they do not exist merely that at my time of visiting they were not apparent.

 

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