Gerbillus gerbillus (Olivier 1801) Lesser Egyptian Gerbil
Hebrew name: גרביל דרומי, gerbil dromi
Arabic Name: Bayoudi
Global Threat: NE – Not Evaluated
Regional Threat: CR (A1ac,B,C) – Critically Endangered
Distribution area: Southern Arava sands and eastern Ramon Makhtesh (Krasnov and Pirhiya Siani, Yaron Ziv, pers. comm.)
Historic distribution: Was found in the Western Negev sands (Haluza, Nizzana, Be’er Mash’abim, Nahal Sekher) and the southern Arava sands until the 1990s (Harrison & Bates 1991, Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1988). In the past the Israeli population ranged over an area of ca. 3000 km2.
Typical Habitat: Shifting dunes or semi-stabile sand with sparse vegetation.
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Sand quarrying.
2. Habitat destruction due to expansion of agricultural areas.
3. Multi-drive vehicle (jeeps and ATVs) traffic.
4. Lack of grazing apparently increases vegetation cover, so that the lesser Egyptian gerbil is forced out by rodents better adapted to vegetation-rich sandy environments.
Population Size: The eastern Makhtesh Ramon population comprises only isolated individuals; the Samar sands population, on an area of about 3 km2, has only several dozen gerbils (Krasnov and Pirhiya Sinai, pers. comm).
Fluctuations in Population Size: The Western Negev sands population is extinct or on the verge of extinction (Yaron Ziv, pers. comm.), and the Arava population has become relict and very small.
Isolation between Subpopulations: The sub-populations of the southern Arava and the Ramon Makhtesh are apparently isolated from each other.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Declaring a sand reserve in the southern Arava, as large as possible.
2. Formulating a management program, which will prevent vehicles from entering the area.