Sir Bani Yas Island and its surrounding waters are home to many diverse members of the animal kingdom, from oryx, gazelle and deer to giraffes, dolphins and sea turtles. Many of the more than one hundred individual species of wild birds, which can be found on the island, are indigenous to the region, and several non-indigenous species have settled during migration and made the island their permanent home.

When you participate in one of the many activities offered on the island you can view a number of these special animals in the Arabian Wildlife Park, which takes up close to half the size of the island. The Park offers the opportunity to experience free-roaming indigenous wildlife in natural settings.

Several of our animals are classified by the World Conservation Union as critically endangered or vulnerable in the wild. Sir Bani Yas Island therefore plays a significant role in protecting these fascinating animals for future generations.


Arabian Hare

Lepus capensis arabicus

The Arabian Hare is indigenous to the United Arab Emirates.

Adapted to the harsh desert environment, the hare is much smaller than its European counterpart and is therefore often mistaken for a rabbit, which does not occur in Arabia. Unlike the rabbit, the hare does not live in burrows, but spends the day motionless, with its ears folded back, relying totally on its camouflage, remaining in shallow scrapes under a bush or even in the open. The young hares, or leverets, are born fully furred with their eyes open and are able to survive without their mother from the seventh to the tenth day of their lives. The Arabian Hare does not need to drink water, as it obtains enough moisture from the grasses and shrubs it eats.

Arabian Oryx

The Arabian Oryx is the largest of the antelope species. Its distinctive white body helps it to keep cool in summer by deflecting sunlight. It is used to the harsh desert environment and is able to live in areas with no trees or standing water.

The Arabian Oryx is the most endangered of the Oryx species and it has been extinct in the wild since the early 1960s. It is estimated that Sir Bani Yas Island, with over 400 individual animals, has the largest population in the world.

Arabian Mountain Gazelle

Gazelle gazelle

The Arabian gazelle can be found along around the Arabian Peninsula, in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.

It is highly adapted to live in harsh desert environments and can go without water for long periods of time, living only on succulent plants and dew drops.

It lives in small herds of 3-8 animals, and can reach running speeds of up to 65 kms per hour.

The Arabian gazelle is classified as Conservation Dependent by the World Conservation Union.

Arabian Rock Hyrax

Procavia capensis jayakari

The Arabian Rock Hyrax is a small and solidly built indigenous desert dweller, with a short almost non-existent stump for a tail. Although classified as a mammal, The Arabian Rock Hyrax has a poor ability to regulate body temperature and have to rely on shelters to provide an environment of constant temperature and humidity. Several Hyraxes often huddle together to maintain temperature during long periods of inactivity. The Arabian Rock Hyrax has extremely sharp incisors, resembling dagger-like tusks, which are used mainly in defense.

Axis/Indian Spotted Deer

Cervus axis

The Axis deer is native to India and Sri Lanka where it can be found in sparse forests and grassland areas. It is one of the most common Indian deer species in existence.

The male Axis Deer, like all deer species, has antlers rather than horns. The antlers are made up of bone which fall off and grow back every season. Only the male has antlers. It is notoriously nervous and frightens easily.

The Axis Deer is classified as Lower Risk by the World Conservation Union.

Barbary Sheep

Ammotragus lervia

The Barbary Sheep is a species of goat-antelope and found in the arid mountain areas in Africa.

Barbary Sheep grow to around 80-100 cm tall and weigh 40-140 kgs. It lives off grazing material which it finds while scouring the mountain areas and doesn't need to drink as it is able to survive by the moisture it can absorb from the plants it eats.

The Barbary Sheep is classified as Vulnerable by the World Conservation Union.

Beisa Oryx

The Beisa Oryx is native to the Savannahs of Eastern Africa. A full-grown animal weighs between 150 and 200 kg and can be up to 1.2 metres tall.

The Beisa Oryx has a unique black stripe running along its side, separating a grey-brown coat is from white undersides. The same markings run across its face from the base of the horns through to the lower cheek.

The Beisa Oryx is classified as Conservation Dependent by the World Conservation Union.

Blackbuck or Indian Antelope

Antilope cervicapra

The Blackbuck is an antelope which is found mainly in India, Pakistan and Nepal. One of the fastest land mammals, it has been recorded running at speeds of up to 90 km per hour.

Its horns are ringed with 3 to 4 turns and can be as long as 70 cm. The adult male can grow as tall as 80 cm and can weigh as much as 50 kg.

The Black Buck is classified as Vulnerable by the World Conservation Union.


Acynonyx jubatus soemmeringii

The cheetah is known as the world's fastest land mammal. It is built for speed and can accelerate from zero to a full speed of 112 kmh in seconds. As the cheetah runs, only one foot at a time touches the ground. The cheetah's respiratory rate more than doubles to 150 breaths per minute during a high-speed chase. It can run at full speed for around half a kilometer before it is exhausted. Because of this it can be vulnerable to other predators, and as a result it's prey is often stolen.

Dolphin and Dugongs

An 8 km 'No Fishing' zone around Sir Bani Yas Island, which was established many years ago, has resulted in the presence of a large number of dolphins and dugongs. This means the waters around the Desert Islands have some of the emirate's largest populations of dolphins and dugongs. Both types of marine animals frequent the waters around the islands and they can often be spotted playing in the water between Sir Bani Yas Island and the mainland.


Traqelaphus oryx

The Eland is the world's largest antelope species and is native to East and Southern Africa. The male can grow to a full 400-1,000kg, compared to 300-600kg for the female. Both the male and the female Eland have horns that spiral tightly, though the female horns tend to be thinner.

The Eland is able to jump over eight feet high from a standstill. This sight is a magnificent experience and bystanders lucky enough to catch it will not forget it.

The Eland is found in grassland, mountain, sub-desert and woodland areas.

The Eland is classified as Conservation Dependent by the World Conservation Union.


Dromaius novaehollandiae

The Emu is Australia's tallest native bird. It can grow to a height of almost two metres and weigh up to 45 kg.

The Emu is a fascinating bird, which has a loud call that sounds like booming and drumming and which can be heard up to 2 km away.

The Emu can be found in a number of different locations on Sir Bani Yas Island.

Ethiopian Hedgehog

Paraechinus aethiopicus

Hedgehogs are represented by three species in the UAE. Of the three, only The Ethiopian Hedgehog occurs on Sir Bani Yas Island. The hedgehog is a solitary nocturnal animal, spending the day in a sheltered location, emerging at dusk to hunt for insects and reptiles. As its spine offer poor protection against the cold it hibernates during the cool season, even in Arabia! In the U.A.E. it is found in the mountains, as well as in the desert and the coastal plains.

Fallow Deer

Cervus dama

The Fallow Deer is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. It is one of the more common deer species and has over time been introduced to countries throughout the world.

The Fallow Deer, like all deer species, has antlers rather than horns. The antlers are made up of bone which fall off and grow back every season. Only the male has antlers.

The Fallow Deer is classified as Lower Risk by the World Conservation Union.


The Gemsbok is a large African antelope with long spear-like horns with a striking appearance. It is indigenous to Southern Africa and usually lives in herds of about 10-40 animals, which consist of a dominant male and a few non-dominant males and females. It is a desert dweller and does not require regular drinking to supply its physiological water needs.

The ringed horns of the gemsbok are up to 77 cm long, making them formidable weapons. The female's horns are often longer and thinner than the male's.

The Gemsbok is classified as Conservation Dependent by the World Conservation Union.

Greater Flamingo

Phoenocopterus rube

There are a large number of flamingos on Sir Bani Yas Island, most of which can be found around the many mangrove areas, which are fertile feeding grounds.

The flamingos found on Sir Bani Yas Island are of the Greater Flamingo species, which is the most widespread species of flamingo, and have predominantly white feathers.

Laristan Urial

Ovis orientalis laristanica

The Urial Sheep is a wild sheep native to Iran and Kazakstan. The male sheep has large horns which curl outwards from the top of the head, turning in behind the head. The female also displays horns, although these are shorter and more compressed. The horns of the males may grow to be up 1 metre, whilst the animal itself is usually around 80-90cm tall.

The Urial Sheep prefer grassy areas rather than rocky mountain environments. It feeds mainly on grass but is able to eat leaves of trees and bushes if needed.

The Urial Sheep is classified as Vulnerable by the World Conservation Union.


Lama glama

Native to North America the Llama migrated to South America and Asia 3 million years ago. It can grow to nearly 2 metres and can weigh up to 200kg. Llamas spit at each other as a way of punishing low-rank members of the herd. Their fights are dramatic and feature spitting, kicking and neck wrestling.

Northern Ostrich

Struthio camelus

The Ostrich is a large flightless bird native to Africa and formerly the Middle East. The fastest bird on land, it can run at speeds of around 74 km per hour. When threatened, the Ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground or will run away. It can cause severe injury with a kick of its powerful legs.

Other Birds

With more than 170 different types of wild birds, Sir Bani Yas Island is a paradise for bird lovers. Many birds use the island as a stop-over during migration but some have settled and made Sir Bani Yas Island their permanent home. The largest birds can often be observed around the mangrove areas.

Red Deer

Cervus elaphus

The Red Deer is one of the largest deer species in the world. The average male grows to around 1.2 metres tall and weighs around 295 kg.

It was once found throughout much of the Northern hemisphere, from Europe through Northern Africa, Asia and North America. Unfortunately, extensive hunting and destruction of their native habitat has limited it to a portion of its former range.

The Red Deer, like all deer species, has antlers rather than horns. The antlers are made up of bone which fall off and grow back every season. Only the male has antlers.

Reticulated Giraffe

Giraffa camelopardalis reticulate

The Reticulated Giraffe is the most well-known of the nine giraffe subspecies in existence. It is native to north-eastern Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The giraffe can grow up to 5.8 metres high and weigh up to 1,400 kg. The extraordinary height of giraffes allows them to feed from the branches of trees that other hoofed animals can't reach.

The spots on the giraffe are unique to each animal, much like a human's fingerprints. Thus no two giraffes look the same.

There are more than 30 Reticulated Giraffes on Sir Bani Yas Island.

Sand or Goitered Gazelle

Gazella subgutturosa

The Sand Gazelle is the most common animal found on Sir Bani Yas Island.

The Sand Gazelle is well adapted to desert conditions and can derive most of its required moisture from the food it eats. It is found in the desert and semi-deserts of central Asia where its main defence against predators is its phenomenal running speed of up to 60 kms per hour.

The Sand Gazelle is classified as Vulnerable by the World Conservation Union.

Scimitar-horned Oryx

The Scimitar-horned Oryx is named for its scimitar-shaped horns. Unfortunately, these horns have made the Oryx a sought-after prize by poachers, resulting in the near extinction of the species. It is also believed that climate change has contributed to the decline of this species.

The Scimitar-horned Oryx is indigenous to North and Central Africa where it once roamed the Sahara desert. Today the Scimitar-horned Oryx are restricted to a few small isolated pockets in the wild and are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union. There are approximately 4,000 Arabian Oryx on Sir Bani Yas Island, one of the largest herds in the world.

Sea Turtles

Of the seven species of sea turtles in the world, four of them occur in the waters around the Desert Islands. These are the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the huge leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).

While three of these Sea Turtle species are observed in the waters on almost a daily basis, you may be in luck and spot a huge leatherback turtle, which can grow to close to three metres in length and weigh almost 1,000 kg.

All four turtle species described above are classified as Critically Endangered by the World Conservation Union. It is therefore very important to observe these amazing animals at a safe distance to ensure they are not disturbed.

Striped Hyena

Hyaena hyaena sultana

The Striped Hyena is native to Arabia and Africa. It is very secretive, solitary and nocturnal. The Striped Hyena can travel vast distances in a short period of time and has a long, black mane from the base of the head to the root of the tail.


Explore - Wildlife

Sir Bani Yas Island is home to some of Arabia´s most incredible wildlife, including one of the world´s largest herds of Arabian Oryx. This beautiful species of antelope is sadly now extinct in the wild, but Sir Bani Yas is home to a managed herd of over 400.