The Eastern Desert of Egypt is bounded by the Nile Delta to the north and by Sudan to the south. To the west it meets the Nile Valley, while the whole east coast extends north to south along the Red Sea, a deep narrow trough, about 1,932 km long, separating Africa from Asia.
This region possesses unique landscapes, which harbor a biodiversity of global importance, including a thriving wildlife, arid hills and mountains, winding wadis, and a view onto the emerald waters of the Red Sea, home to a rich marine life and one of the world's finest diving and snorkeling locations.
The Eastern Desert photo, taken during flight from Marsa Alam to Prague
Sunset over the mountains of the Eastern Desert, Red Sea shore, Egypt
During the region's last prolonged damp period - 12,000 to 4,500 years ago - animals now found only in sub-Saharan Africa thrived in the Eastern Desert. Prehistoric man depicted many of these animals in localities across the Eastern Desert, such as at Wadi Barramiya and Wadi Hammamat.
The Eastern Desert consists mostly of a series of rugged mountains that were shaped by violent earth movements and vulcanic activity, which witnessed the formation of the Red Sea rift and are still visible in the unique and striking features of the landscape. The mountains are formed of the most ancient rocks in Egypt, dating to more than 550 million years ago. The rocks include igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks, such as gneiss and schist, formed under tremendous pressure and heat.
In the Eastern Desert, the mountains rise gradually from west to east. Among the most notable of these mountains are Gebel Shayib el Banat (2,187 m), Gebel Hamata (1,977 m), and Gebel Elba (1,437 m). Higher mountains recieve condensation of cloud moisture, creating mist oasis on higher peaks.
Due to the aridity of the Eastern Desert, plant and animal life is generally restricted to drainage systems. Plants grow on the sloping sides of wadis or on islands within the main wadi channels.
© National Parks of Egypt
The Eastern Desert - riverbed of occasional streams "wadi" creates deep canyons in the desert
Animal Species of the Eastern Desert:
- Burton's carpet viper, Echis coloratus
- Ornate spiny-tailed lizard, Uromastyx ornata
- Spiny agama, Agama spinosa
- Crowned sandgrouse, Pterocles coronatus
- Egyptian vulture, Neophron percnopterus
- Lappet-faced vulture, Torgos tracheliotus
- Hume's tawny owl, Strix butleri
- Nubian ibex, Capra nubiana
- Barbary sheep, Ammotragus lervia
- Dorcas gazelle, Gazella dorcas
- Desert hare, Lepus capensis
- Striped hyena, Hyaena hyaena
- African leopard, Panthera pardus pardus
- Sand cat, Felis margarita
- Caracal, Felis caracal
- Rupell's sand fox, Vulpes rueppelli
- African wolf, Canis lupus lupaster
In the rugged mountains of the Eastern Desert perhaps still surviving residual population of African leopard Panthera pardus pardus.
The taxonomy of canines living in Egypt is now undergoing stormy changes. Recently done DNA analysis has revealed that the Egyptian jackal Canis aureus lupaster is in fact a new subspecies of the wolf - the African wolf. Therefore we can encounter three subspecies of wolf in Egypt - the African wolf Canis lupus lupaster (Africa), the Arabian wolf Canis lupus arabs (Sinai, Arabian Peninsula) and the Indian wolf Canis lupus pallipes (Asia, including the Sinai Peninsula).
Similarly for cats it is somewhat more complicated. In the Arab Republic of Egypt can occur:
- Arabian Leopard, Panthera pardus niggle (Sinai Peninsula)
- Sinai Leopard, Panthera pardus Jarvis (Sinai Peninsula)
- African Leopard, Panthera pardus pardus (African part of Egypt)
For the completeness let's also mention occurence of the cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus in the Qattara Depression and the Lybian Desert (also known as the Western Desert).
The Eastern Desert, 2013