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Dorcas Gazelle

Gazella dorcas (Linnaeus 1758) Dorcas Gazelle

Hebrew name: צבי הנגב tzvi hanegev

Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae

Global Threat: NT – Near Threatened
Regional Threat: VU (B,C2b,D2) – Vulnerable

Distribution area: Common in the Negev and the Arava, from the western Negev and the Dead Sea shore south to Eilat. In the last gazelle censuses in 1991 and 1992 (Lavi 1992) 1200-1400 Dorcas gazelles were counted in the Arava and the large wadis in the southern Negev. In counts of gazelle-abundant quadrates (Evrona playa, Hai-Bar, Nahal Zenifim and Nahal Zihor) in 1999 and 2000, the numbers counted were similar to those found in the same quadrates in 1991-92.

Historic distribution: Military personnel in the Negev began massive hunting of Dorcas gazelles in 1953 (Paz, pers. comm.) and gazelle meat was sold in Beersheba restaurants (Mendelssohn 1974). In the early 1960s the Israel Defense Forces forbade gazelle hunting. In 1964 the Nature Reserves Authority began counting Dorcas gazelles in the Arava and southern Negev, and that year only about 300 gazelles were counted (Yom-Tov & Ilani 1987). Since then the population has grown and stabilized.

Typical Habitat: Desert areas with less than 200 mm annual precipitation, open landscapes with acacia-rich wadis and in acacia stands bordering on Arava salt marshes.

Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Hunting.
2. Competition with goats and camels for pasture.
3. Habitat reduction and fragmentation as a result of the expansion of military training grounds in the Negev.

Population Size Estimate: The Israeli Dorcas gazelle population is apparently stabilized at about 1000-1500 individuals.

Fluctuations in Population Size: Between 1965-1985 the Dorcas gazelle population grew an average of 7% a year (Yom-Tov & Ilani 1987), reaching a stable size of over 1000 in the 1990s.

Isolation between Subpopulations: Unknown

Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Preserving large natural open spaces connected by ecological corridors.
2. Preventing hunting.
3. Preventing goat and camel grazing in areas with large gazelle populations.
4. Building high, broad road underpasses.