Dubai - Family instals sign in Dubai to save gazelles from being run over

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Malaysian expat Menessa Ibrahim and her family have been residents of the UAE for nine years.

A family in Dubai's Falcon City has installed a hand-made signage in their residential community to save a herd of gazelles from being run over by speedsters.

Following the death of a baby gazelle, the kids in the family were inspired to instal a hand-made, upcycled signage to warn motorists to slow down. Malaysian expat Menessa Ibrahim and her family have been residents of the UAE for nine years. Menessa runs a restaurant in Dubai, and the family moved into their Falcon City villa two months ago.

To their joy, Menessa and her young sons Miqael, Qhalif and Yusuf share their neighbourhood with a herd of gazelles. "We spotted the animals about a month ago. Sometimes they move in large groups and other times we see a solitary gazelle or two," explained Menessa. The elegant Arabian gazelles are highly elusive and extremely fast, according to the family. Their neighbourhood is also home to several small Arabian foxes.

'Gazelle may have been killed in hit-and-run accident'

Unfortunately, a few days ago, Menessa and her sons spotted a dead baby gazelle who was presumed to be killed by a speeding motorist while trying to cross the road. The family saw the dead baby gazelle two days ago, and have since alerted the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the Dubai Municipality. "It was heartbreaking to find the dead baby gazelle there. We pass by that road very frequently, and just three days before we saw the dead one, we'd spotted a family of three gazelles at the same spot," said Menessa.

Following the gazelle's tragic death, the Dubai-resident's 11-year-old son Miqael and his siblings decided to instal the signage near the entrance of Falcon City. He used recycled materials to create the signage, warning residents to 'slow down' as 'gazelles and foxes are crossing the road'. The signage is being held down by three big boulders. The speed limit on these roads is restricted to 40kmph. However, some motorists tend to drive faster, endangering the animals.

"I think the smaller gazelles are not fast enough. That's why they get hit by speeding motorists. We want the community and the people in-charge to put up more signs to respect the animals," said Miqael. The family has since alerted the Falcon City management and the community security and requested them to keep a watchful eye.

Miqael is also concerned by the amount of plastic trash that is left behind by picnickers. "The gazelles and foxes could eat the trash, and it could cause them great harm," he said. The siblings recommend more speed bumps, speeding cameras and road signs that specifically warn residents about foxes and gazelles in the area.

Number of gazelles has gone up

Dr Reza Khan, principal wildlife specialist, Dubai Safari, Public Parks and Leisure Facilities Department, Dubai Municipality, said: "There are a large number of gazelles living in the desert. Over the last couple of years, their numbers have gone up pretty drastically. Today, about 5,000 gazelles are living in the desert area." According to Khan, the animals are coming towards the residential areas seeking food.

"The desert has been modified a lot. There are more and more green areas coming up in Dubai now, and this has been attracting desert insects, the Oryx, small foxes and gazelles into residential communities," said Khan. "They (gazelle) eat any kind of vegetable matter," he explained. The animals tend to stay in 'core' areas, however, when the area gets overpopulated small, and big herds tend to move out of the core areas. The municipality has placed food and installed water holes for desert animals every 500 metres to one km.

"The dispersal takes them to villages, farming areas and residential areas. Gazelles can travel in groups of two or 200. The males tend to stray away from the herd as singletons and the females move out with their calves," added Dr Khan. He advised all residents to be respectful of wild animals while driving in the desert. "Even if you become two to three minutes late to work, be respectful of wildlife," he said. Residents can call DM on 800900 to report wild animal sightings, said Dr Khan.

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Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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