Gazella gazella gazella (Pallas 1766) Mountain Gazelle
Hebrew name: צבי ישראלי, tzvi yisraeli
Global Threat: NT – Near Threatened
Regional Threat: VU (A1a,C1+2b) – Vulnerable
Distribution area: The mountain gazelle is found in northern and central Israel, from the western Negev and the Judean Desert plateau northwards. Gazella gazella has two subspecies in Israel: the mountain gazelle (G. g. gazella) and the acacia gazelle (G. g. acaciae).
Historic distribution: Approximately 500 mountain gazelles existed in Israel in 1948 (Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1999). The gazelle population has been on the rise since the mid 1960s, when hunting was restricted, wildlife protection laws enforced and public awareness of the importance of nature conservation increased. The Nature Reserves Authority transferred hundreds of m. gazelle from Ramot Yissakhar to the southern Golan Heights (Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1988).
Typical Habitat: Flat open areas, hills, mountain slopes and sandy areas in the Mediterranean region, south to the 150 mm precipitation isohyet. Mountain gazelles will sometimes spread into dense Mediterraniean woodland (Mt. Meron, Judean Mountains).
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Poaching (mainly by foreign workers).
2. High predation pressure from a rising predator population (golden jackals, wolves, red foxes and feral dogs) as a result of increased food availability (carcasses and garbage dumps in open areas and in the vicinity of settlements) beyond the habitat carrying capacity.
Population Size Estimate: In 2002 about 200 mountain gazelle were counted in the southern Golan Heights, 1300 in Ramot Yissakhar and about 50 on the Naftali Range (Kaplan 2000). The estimated mountain gazelle population in Israel today is ca. 3000.
Fluctuations in Population Size: During the past years the southern Golan, which once comprised about half the Israeli mountain gazelle population, is decreasing. No significant changes were found in other populations.
Isolation between Subpopulations: Unknown.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Preserving large natural open spaces connected by ecological corridors.
2. Preventing hunting.
3. Reducing the amount of available food for canid predators (fowl carcasses, open garbage dumps) and controlling the predator population (where necessary).
4. Building high, broad road underpasses.