Animal reintroduction projects in the Middle East: conservation without a human face (In: Conservation and Mobile Indigenous Peoples: Displacement, Forced Settlement, and Sustainable Development)
Conservation in the Arabian Peninsula, unlike Africa and elsewhere, does not have a long history. In other parts of the world, ideas and policies for the 'preservation of nature' and the conservation of plant and animal species were exported with the colonial administrations of, mainly, France and Great Britain. The Arabian Peninsula, however, was never a 'colony' of a Western power. Its neo-colonial period, which might have served to develop such an interest, was very short, and only lasted a few decades between the ends of the two World Wars. In addition, its mainly arid land mass was not suitable as a wooded reserve. Furthermore, it had few species of large mammals, making it unattractive for the development of wildlife reserves. Conservation and eco-tourism were therefore largely irrelevant in the Arabian Peninsula for most of the twentieth century. Only as the millennium began to draw to a close did a particular form of conservation - animal reintroduction - manifest itself in the region. Without the colonial baggage most other parts of the world had to carry, these conservation projects should have been able to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that plagued similar efforts in other regions. That, sadly, has not been the case.