Gazella gazella acaciae (Mendelssohn, Groves & Shalmon 1997) Acacia Gazelle
Hebrew name: צבי השיטים, tzvi hashitim
Global Threat: CR (A1c, C2b) – Critically Endangered
Regional Threat: CR (A1a, B, D) – Critically Endangered
Distribution area: This is an endemic subspecies first described in 1997. Virtually the entire global population (20-30 gazelles) inhabits an area about 6 km2 in the Yotvata Hai-Bar Reserve, (Blank, pers. comm.). A lone female inhabits Nahal Yaham (Paz and Chemo, pers. comm.).
Historic distribution: In the 1940s hundreds of acacia gazelles are estimated to have inhabited the Hazeva area (northern Arava), (Mendelssohn 1974). During the 1950s and 60s massive gazelle hunting in the Negev (mainly by Israel Defense Forces officers and soldiers) apparently destroyed the northern Arava population. Southern Arava population censuses began in 1965 (Yom-Tov & Ilani 1987). During the 1980s the acacia gazelles living between Eilat and Timna were eliminated, particularly in the Evrona playa.
Typical Habitat: Dense Acacia stands with abundant shrubs bordering on salt marshes.
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Predation of young gazelles by red fox, wolves and possibly hyenas.
2. Low survival rate of young, possibly as a result of inbreeding. During the last year a male that looked and behaved like a Dorcas gazelle hybrid, was seen mating with female acacia gazelles.
3. Decrease in the amount of available food, possibly as a result of the lowering of the water table in the southern Arava.
Population Size Estimate: 20-30 gazelles, of these 3 adult males (Blank, pers. comm.).
Fluctuations in Population Size: Since the 1960s the population is on a fluctuating descending trend, with each low point lower than its predecessor: 1974 – 17 gazelles; 1981 – 15 gazelles; 1996 – 10 gazelles, of which only one adult male.
Isolation between Subpopulations: One female survived in Nahal Yaham. She is isolated from the remaining population that inhabits the open Hai-Bar Reserve, south of Yotvata.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Close monitoring of the population and variations in its size.
2. Improving the food and water supply (troughs).
3. Enforcement to prevent human harassment (closed reserve).
4. Preventing carrion and refuse dumping in open garbage sites, to avoid carnivore population growth beyond the area’s carrying capacity.