By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Authorities seized and confiscated over 30 locally and globally threatened species during 2010 at the Kingdom’s air and land ports, according to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).

Twelve falcons at Jordan’s border crossing with neighbouring countries and scores of turtles at the Queen Alia International Airport were seized last year by RSCN and Jordan Customs Department personnel, according to the RSCN 2010 annual report, released Saturday.

Four lions and four cheetah cubs and two Asian tigers were also seized by authorities last year while heading to neighbouring countries.

In 2010, the RSCN issued 150 tickets to traders of endangered species, according to the report.

Ecologists describe Jordan as a transit point for traders of species that are considered vulnerable to endangerment and urge for stepping up monitoring at border crossings to prevent trading in wildlife animals and plants.

Around 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 types of plants are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to which Jordan became a signatory in 1978, against over-exploitation through international trade.

Meanwhile, the RSCN report cited the establishment of two new protected areas this year in Qatar and Fifa as one of its 2011 goals, and highlighted that the establishment of the Yarmouk Nature Reserve in the north as its main 2010 achievement.

The Qatar proposed protected area, located 40 kilometres north of the Gulf of Aqaba, would cover over 45 square kilometres and is home to 16 types of vegetation, six kinds of mammals, five types of reptiles and 32 of birds, according to the RSCN.

Meanwhile, Fifa, which lies at the southern end of the Dead Sea, contains remnants of sub-tropical vegetation and freshwater streams that have created an oasis in an arid area, thus attracting migrating birds. Fifa is also home to the Syrian wolf and the majestic caracal, according to the society’s website.

RSCN’s annual report also indicated that construction on an environment conservation academy in Ajloun will commence this year, in addition to expediting the reconstruction of Dana Village to transform it into an eco-tourism destination.