The Natural History (as well as the Sayyid Faisal Bin Ali Museum) is located in the Al-Khuwair district of Muscat across the main highway from the Ice-Skating Rink. As it’s closed on Fridays and most people work Sat-Wed, the most realistic time to visit seems to be between 9am and 1pm on Thursdays. Take notice that this is the back gate of the museum. My wife and I went here on 2 different locations and wondered why the gate was closed during “opening hours”! They really need a sign here informing people that there is another entrance on another street. THIS is the main entrance! Located in the Ministry of Heritage and Culture Complex. Only plants and animals from Oman are shown; furthermore, as no animals (except some insects) are deliberately killed for display, the museum has an enviable reputation for authenticity. For specimens, it relies very much upon members of the public to bring in their finds. The Natural History Museum is a “shop window” through which Omani and many other visitors can see and appreciate the animal and plant wealth of Oman, and where information (much of it unpublished elsewhere) can be found about the environment in which we all live. The emblem of the Natural History Museum is the Caracal Lynx. Chosen for its fearless courage and proud bearing, to be the noble representative of Oman’s natural wildlife. The main building (pictured here) contains fascinating examples of some of Oman’s rarest flora and fauna. Visitors have increased each year, from 11,123 in 1986 to 24,704 in 2004. They come from all walks of life: teachers and Government officials, school children, students and staff from the Sultan Qaboos University, visitors to Oman from other Gulf countries and from many continents, and increasing numbers of Omanis and their families. The first gallery, entitled “Oman-Land of Contrasts“, gives a pictorial introduction to the natural history of the Sultanate by 6 regions, and “Conservation in Action” highlights some achievements in conserving the country’s environment and its wildlife. The Fossil Tree The White-tailed Mongoose is an Ethiopian species, known in the mountains of Dhofar. The white-tailed mongoose Ichneumia albicauda albicauda (family Viverridae) is known amongst cultivation on the Batinah. It is an African species and the largest of the world’s mongooses. The Bee-eater Merops apiaster is one of the many colourful birds which migrate through Oman every autumn and spring between their wintering and breeding grounds. The 2nd, larger gallery exhibits skilfully preserved animals from Oman in a series of dioramas entitled “The Diversity of Oman’s Wildlife“. On show are 24 mammals, 59 birds, 30 reptiles, and hundreds of shells, insects and photographs. This huge egg was found in the desert in Dhofar in 1985. It belongs to the Ostrich, Struthio camelus syriacus, a race of the largest living bird in the world. Between 1930 and and 1941 it was hunted to extinction in Arabia; others survive only in Africa. Standing 2.4 meters high (8 feet), the cock often had three to five hens, who together might lay many eggs in one nest. The Horned Viper Cerastes cerastes sometimes has two raised scaly “horns”. It lives in sandy regions and moves in a side-winding manner, it has hinged fangs and is venomous. The Desert Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia minula is a passage migrant but also a common winter visitor to desert trees. The plant it is resting on is the Christ Thorn-Tree Ziziphus spina-christi; a common tree in wadis and plantations, growing where the underground water level is close to the surface. This cool looking critter is the Lesser Jerboa Jaculus jaculus vocator. It inhabits sand or gravel desert, bounding like a small kangaroo in its nightly search for plant food. It becomes sluggish and hibernates in its burrow in the heat of mid-summer. The Ethiopian Hedgehog Paraechinus aethiopicus dorsalis is a widespread nocturnal insectivore of lowland. A very young Arabian Gazelle Gazella gazella
If you are curious to know more about Oman and the animals that live here, why not spend a few hours at the Natural History Museum? Tickets are only 500 baiza for adults and 200 baisa for children.