Dama mesopotamica (Brooke 1875) Persian Fallow Deer
Hebrew name: יחמור פרסי, yahmur parsi
Global Threat: EN (D1) – Endangered
Regional Threat: CR (B1) – Critically Endangered
Distribution area: The Israeli population of the Persian fallow deer (first released to nature in 1996 in the western Galilee) comprises more than 1/3 of the global population (Wemmer 1998). Its source is two males from the breeding nucleus at the Kronenberg Zoo in Germany (1976) and 4 females from Iran (1978), probably from the same source (Paz 1983). The deer are now common in the western Galilee, in Nahal Keziv and Goren Park. Reintroduction is planned to continue through 2004, and to achieve a target population of over 250 Persian fallow deer in nature.
Historic distribution: The Persian fallow deer is listed as one of the “clean” animals in the Bible (Deutoronomy 14:4). Hasselquist (1757) reported the species from Mt. Tabor (in Harrison & Bates 1991). Tristram (1888) wrote that the species was rare in northern Palestine, and only isolated individuals inhabited the woodlands northwest of Mt. Tabor and in the Lower Galilee (in Harrison & Bates 1991). The last Persian fallow deer in our area was apparently hunted in 1922 in Transjordan (Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1988). The Persian fallow deer most likely became extinct in Israel in the late 19th or early 20th century.
Typical Habitat: Dense forests and open Mediterraniean woodland, garigue and batha. The Persian fallow deer apparently prefers areas that are not craggy (Dolev 1999).
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
Population Size Estimate: 90-100 deer inhabiting an area of 80 km2 (Bar-David, pers. comm.). There are about another 140 individuals in the Carmel Hai-Bar breeding nucleus and in Israeli zoos (Bar-David, pers. comm.).
Fluctuations in Population Size: A breeding nucleus was established in the Carmel Hai-Bar in 1978, which rose to over 150 deer in 1995 (before release began). The population is growing and spreading since reintroduction to nature began.
Isolation between Subpopulations: None.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Preventing hunting.
2. Limiting speed on roads crossing areas inhabited by deer.
3. Protecting large natural Mediterraniean woodland reserves and creation of suitable ecological corridors between them.