Local Flora & Fauna
Ras Al Khaimah consists of sandy deserts, coastal strips, salt flats, mangroves and mountains. All these areas have different eco-systems which makes it a fascinating place for nature lovers. Apart from cultivated plants there are three categories of flora - the salt loving vegetation of the mangroves and mountain and desert plants, which are plentiful after rainfall. The emirate is also home to a number of reptiles, camels, foxes, jerboas or wildcats as well as hundreds of bird species.
A large diversity of plants have adapted to Ras Al Khaimah’s climate. The desert vegetation consists largely of shrubs, bushes and trees. Of the trees the most common are Ghaf trees, acacias and so called desert thorns. The desert is also home to many plants such as desert ephemerals, hyacinths and thumbs, which flourish mainly during the winter and spring season turning the desert into a sea of blossoms. After the rains of winter, the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah burst into colour with purple lilies, wild irises and white daisies. The sidr, a tree, highly appreciated for its medical use, can also be found in the wadis. Its pollen also attracts bees that produce excellent honey.
Bird life in Ras Al Khaimah is as diverse as the landscape. Wadis and mountains host wheatears, partridges, warblers, falcons and even vultures. Larks, wheatears, babblers and ravens often inhabit the desert. A birdwatcher will also find birds such as rollers, sunbirds, bee-eaters, hoopoes and ring-necked parakeets in towns and on plantations
Along the lagoons and coastline, shorebirds abound with waders, sandpipers, plovers, herons, terns, gulls, flamingos and cormorants.
The most common mammals in Ras Al Khaimah are camels, goats and feral donkeys. However there are also wild mammals that choose the desert or mountains as their habitat but they often go unseen, as many of them are nocturnal. Rodents are the largest group and include jerboas and a few species of gerbils and jirds.
Other common animals are foxes (the Arabian red, Blandford’s and sand fox), bats, hares and wildcats (the Gordon’s wildcat and the sand cat). The Arabian sand gazelle, Mountain Gazelle and the Oryx, although very rare, can sometimes be spotted in the wild.
The waters off the UAE’s coast host over one third of the world’s 80 species of whales and dolphins, around 700 species of fish and four reported species of turtles and Ras Al Khaimah is no exception. A number of excursions and dive specialists operate in the area and the cooler months are an ideal time to see the rare green turtle.