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Antelope on the brinkAntelope on the brink

Israeli gazelle in danger of extinction

Fewer than 2,000 Palestinian mountain gazelles left in the wild, says British expert

A Palestinian mountain gazelle. (CC BY-SA 3.0 Bassem18/Wikipedia)
A Palestinian mountain gazelle. (CC BY-SA 3.0 Bassem18/Wikipedia)

A breed of antelope, whose habitat is Israel and the Palestinian territories, has become an endangered species, according to a British expert.

The Palestinian mountain gazelle lives mostly in the hills around Jerusalem and in high terrain in the West Bank.

According to Dr. David Mallon, the British zoologist who serves as the antelope expert for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, there are currently fewer than 2,000 known individuals of the species. He recommends updating the gazelle’s status on the environmental organization’s Red List from “vulnerable” to “endangered.”

Mallon told the Guardian that issues related to taxonomy of the species have complicated the assessment of exactly how many Palestinian mountain gazelles remain, especially as the species has only recently been recognized as genetically distinct from other gazelles.

The paper quotes figures from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority that say the population in Israel declined from more than 10,000 to just 3,000 in 2008.

The antelope’s population decline is continuing, the authority said, adding that “the damage to the gazelle population stems from the chopping up of their habitats due to construction, paving of roads and erection of fences.”

“They are also impacted by increased predation due to poor sanitation that facilitates growth in the number of predators and feral dogs. Animals are also killed by hunters and cars.”

“It is therefore vital to maintain contiguous open areas and ecological corridors, especially in gazelle habitats. Unnecessary development in these areas should be avoided,” it went on.

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