The desert area north of Amman, Jordan (the site of the King Hussein Park) which engulfs roughly 75% of the entire country, is under strain. In addition to being water scarce, what resources are available are taxed by the presence of Palestinian refugees and other displaced persons.
Wildlife are similarly threatened, mostly by people. Jordan’s wolves are hunted, as are hyenas, and amphibians, other mammals, and reptiles are losing their habitat. Owls are considered a bad Oman by Jordanians and they are murdered too.
Although elsewhere Israel and Jordan cooperate to save birds that share a joint migratory corridor, the Badia Center for Ecological Education works to raise awareness of all species in the Badia.
Initiated in 2000, the center has a dual role as a wildlife rehabilitation center and education center. It is a unique center as it comprises cooperation between 170 Bedouins, 68 of whom are women.
Various Bedouin tribes have traversed the desert for hundreds, and some say thousands of years, with some coming from Saudi Arabia and Morocco, and despite being forced into a more static lifestyle, many have maintained the knowledge of the area’s unique landscapes and wildlife. Some like Mariam, a Bedouin woman in Israel, turns folklore wisdom into medicine. There is lots more on Bedouin folk wisdom from Jordan here.
In addition to identifying the various threats to species in the region, the center hopes to reduce the pressure on wildlife. Locals run over and poison predators such as wolves if they encroach on their livestock, and because they are superstitious. The same is true for barn owls, though some people like Prof. Yossi Leshem in Israel is de-demonizing owls.
According to an anecdote in David without Borders’ blog (no longer online on Nov. 2020), Bedouin people believe that if a hyena urinates on them, it will proceed to drag them to a cave and feast on their body. Because of this, they won’t hesitate to kill them on the spot if they come across one.
In time, the group also hopes to build an eco-lodge to help fund strident efforts to preserve their precious natural resources.