November 3, 2008

U.S. Department of the Interior Donates Advanced Binoculars for Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature

Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett today presented His Royal Highness Jordanian Ambassador to the United States Prince Zeid Raad Zeid Al-Hussein with 15 advanced binoculars and spotting scopes for the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. The equipment will be used at Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve, the home of the endangered Nubian Ibex, to assist in anti-poaching efforts.

The Department of the Interior is the federal agency with primary responsibility for nature conservation in the United States, including endangered species. The donation of the Vortex binoculars was arranged through staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within the department.

This donation is symbolic of the long-standing conservation ties our professional staffs have enjoyed with their counterparts in Jordan, Deputy Secretary Scarlett said. Since the 1960s Interiors National Park Service has provided advice on Petra Archeological Park, which was recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Prince Zeid Raad, for his part, expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Jordanian government for the generous donation noting that Jordanian-American cooperation in the conservation of Jordan's rich biodiversity is testimony to the strength and breadth of the Jordan-U.S. partnership.

The head of Wildlife Law Enforcement Division for the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, Mahdi Quatrameez, was also present at the meeting. He has been investigating law enforcement procedures on a study tour funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. I am anxious to return to Jordan to get this equipment into the field to support our enforcement efforts, where it will be much appreciated, Quatrameez said.

Wadi Mujib, which borders on the Dead Sea, is the lowest nature reserve in the world. Deputy Secretary Scarlet noted that while Death Valley National Park in America is our lowest point at 85.5 meters below sea level, Wadi Mujib is 410 meters below sea level!

She commented that the Department hopes to establish an exchange of personnel between similar nature reserves in both countries in the future with support from USAID.

Also in attendance at the presentation was Major Fawaz Faleh Elfayez, Chief of Environment and Nature Protection at the Division of Environmental Rangers Directorate of Jordan. Two retired National Park Service employees, Lawrence Belli and Douglas Comer joined the group. They have worked for more than 30 years with Petra Archeological Park.