Jaculus orientalis (Erxleben 1777) Greater Egyptian Jerboa
Hebrew name: ירבוע גדול, yarbo’a gadol
Global Threat: NT – Near Threatened
Regional Threat: EN (A4ac,B) – Endangered
Distribution area: Israel is the eastern limit of the greater Egyptian jerboa’s distribution . There have been no observations of the species from the Arad or Beersheba areas during the past years. None were seen during a field trip to Nahal Sekher and Sede Nevatim in September 2000 (Amit Dolev, pers. comm.). Observations during the past few years have been from two sub-populations: one in the Arad Valley area and the other from the Nahal Sekher-Ramat Hovav-Ashalim area.
Historic distribution: The greater Egyptian jerboa was found in several areas: Tel Shoqet; Tel Arad (Harrison & Bates 1991); the southern Judean Desert plateau; and from Arad to Beersheba and south to Nahal Sekher, Yeroham, Mash’abbe Sade (Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1988, Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1999). In the 1980s 50 jerboas were observed along a ca. 800 m. drive in the Arad Valley (Shalmon 1993).
Typical Habitat: Loess plains.
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Deep plowing, for wheat planting, damages burrows.
2. Intensive sheep and goat grazing reduces the amount of available food and modifies the species composition of plant communities exposed to grazing.
3. Feral cat predation on settlement outskirts.
Population Size: The current population occupies an area of ca. 800 km2.
Fluctuations in Population Size: The population has apparently decreased, as has the greater Egyptian jerboa’s distribution area in Israel.
Isolation between Subpopulations: There may possibly be fragmentation between the Arad population and the one south of Beersheba.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. A survey to estimate the population size and distribution .
2. Declaring a loess reserve to enable species survival.