Meriones sacramenti (Thomas 1922) Buxton’s Jird
Hebrew name: מריון חולות, meryon holot
Global Threat: EN (B1+2c).
Regional Threat: EN (B).
Distribution area: From the northwestern Negev north along the Coastal Plain to Holon. This is an endemic species, whose entire global population is found in Israel.
Historic distribution: Aharoni (in Harrison & Bates 1991) reported finding the species in the Nahal Sekher sands (16 km. south of Beersheba) in the 1930s. Zahavi and Wahrman (in Harrison & Bates 1991) found the species in Nahal Lavan, Be’er Mash’abim, Ashdod, Palmahim, Rishon LeZiyyon and Holon in the 1950s. It was also found in the Ramon Makhtesh in the 1980s (Ilani and Bouskilla 1982, in Harrison & Bates 1991).
Typical Habitat: Stabilized sand and sandy-loess soils, with rich vegetation and shrubs such as white broom and Boxthorn (Lycium sp.)
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Habitat destruction due to expansion of agricultural areas, settlements, roads and military training grounds.
2. Multi-drive vehicle (jeeps and ATVs) and tank traffic.
Population Size: The population ranges over an area of ca. 1000 km2.
Fluctuations in Population Size: The population has apparently declined drastically within its distribution area due to a series of consecutive drought years (Yaron Ziv, pers. comm).
Isolation between Subpopulations: Unknown.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Declaring sand and loess flats reserves in the western Negev, as large as possible.
2. Formulating a management program, which will prevent vehicles from entering the area.