Gerbillus pyramidum (I. Geoffroy 1825) Greater Egyptian Gerbil
Hebrew name: גרביל חולות, gerbil holot
Global Threat: NE – Not Evaluated
Regional Threat: VU (A1c,B) – Vulnerable
Distribution area: From the sands of the Western Negev (Agur and Shunera), via the Gaza Strip, north to Holon and Rishon LeZiyyon, east to Rotem plain.
Historic distribution: The population in the 1950s extended from the Western Negev sands north to the Yarqon River (Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1999). A population was discovered in the coastal sands of the Western Galilee in the 1970s, which probably originated from several gerbils brought over by man (Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1988); there is no later evidence pointing to the existence of the greater Egyptian gerbil in the Western Galilee coastal sands (Amit Dolev, pers. comm.).
Typical Habitat: Shifting dunes or semi-stabile sand with sparse vegetation.
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Sand quarrying.
2. Use of sandy areas to build cities and roads.
3. Sand stabilization as a result of acacia plantings and lack of grazing.
4. Multi-drive vehicle (jeeps and ATVs) and tank traffic on sandy areas.
Population Size: The species ranges over a ca. 1000 km2 sandy area.
Fluctuations in Population Size: The population is apparently decreasing with the reduction of suitable sandy areas.
Isolation between Subpopulations: The dense population and farming in the Gaza Strip possibly create a break between the Coastal Plain and Western Negev populations.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Declaring a sand reserve, as large as possible, with links to the northern Sinai sands.
2. Managing a sand reserve that will prevent multi-drive vehicle traffic and ensure the continued movement of sand by suppressing vegetation with the help of goat or ostrich grazing.
3. Preventing growth and spreading of the Australian acacia species (introduced).