Wednesday, February 27, 2008

St Catherine's National Park

Egyptian Gazette

N.B. The story on this page will expire shortly.

In mid-South Sinai lies the Saint Catherine's Protected Area, one of the areas of the world with the greatest biological diversity.The basis of this National Park's rationale is the conservation of biological diversity or bio-diversity.

In an area of 5,750 square kilometres, the biological diversity has increased over geological time, while global biological diversity is being lost at a rate many times faster than ever before, largely as a result of human activities.The Prime Minister's Decree No. 940 of 1996 stipulates that the Saint Catherine's area is a natural reserve, under the management of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA). St. Catherine's National Park occupies much of the central part of South Sinai, a mountainous region of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rock, which includes Egypt's highest peaks (the mountains of St. Catherine's, Moussa, Serbal, Umm Shomer and Tarbush).

St. Catherine's Mountain is the highest peak in Egypt, 2,624 metres above sea level. The Sinai massif contains some of the world's oldest rocks - around 80 per cent of them are 600 million years old.This high altitude ecosystem supports a surprising diversity of wild species; some found nowhere else in the world. The mountains are relic outposts for the Sinai rose finch from Asia, the ibex and wolf from Europe, and the striped hyena and Tristram's grackle which came from Africa. Several species are unique to the National Park, including two species of snakes and about 20 plant species, such as a beautiful native primrose. Around 1,000 plant species, representing almost 40 per cent of Egypt's total flora, are found in this region. These include many endemic species. Half of the 33 known Sinai endemics are found in the St. Catherine's area. Many of these are rare and endangered. Small orchards are scattered in wadis, particularly at higher elevations. The white-crowned black wheatear is very characteristic of the area. There are 46 reptile species, 15 of which are found nowhere else in Egypt.

See the above page for the full story.

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