This past week, we were excited to release our 200th deer back to the wild in the Jerusalem Hills!
This is a major milestone in this important project.
In March, we released a total of 10 deer in two lots: five males and five females at the Nahal Sorek Nature Reserve.
The project is in partnership with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and we held a celebratory picnic after the release to celebrate the event.
Ariel Kedem, the Zoo’s Conservation Project Coordinator, reports that all the deer are doing well in the acclimatization enclosure and already next week, the gates to the enclosure will be opened and the deer will be free to go into the wild.
As the calendar year comes to a close, we can summarize that another successful year of the program has passed.
One of the highlights, as reported by Conservation Project Coordinator, Ariel Kedem, has been the fact that we have seen this past year, female deers who were released in 2014 with new baby fawns.
This is evidence of both their ongoing health and the success of the release to the wild program.
We are looking forward to the next release of approximately nine deer from the Zoo's breeding core at the end of February.
We are waiting for the GPS collars of the last batch deers released to fall off (when the batteries run out) and be collected and re-programmed for the new releases.
Pictured are two wild-born deer as captured on our trail cameras.
We are pleased to report that we had 10 successful births this past season in our deer herd, bringing their numbers up to 69!
This past week, the male deers have started the process of shedding their velvet.
Velvet is the soft fuzzy layer that covers male deer's antlers and serves as a protective layer for the hardening antlers underneath. It allows the antlers to reach their full potential so that they can be used by the male during rutting season.
During a five-month period, the velvet provides nourishment and protection to the hardening antlers beneath, helping them grow big and strong.
This shedding process is quite gory as the dense blood vessels burst and the velvet falls in red rags from the deer’s rack of antlers.
Despite the rut being months away, male deer start to prepare to face off against rivals for the affections of females early.
The velvet keeps the antlers safe during this time to ensure that they can reach their full potential. When velvet shedding happens, it is the signal that the rut is beginning.
(Source and learn more at: https://worlddeer.org/deer-velvet-shedding/)
At the beginning of March, we released a large group of nine Persian Fallow #deer from the breeding center at the Zoo into the wild at the Nahal Sorek Nature Reserve in the #Jerusalem hills.
Three females and six males were released, and of these, seven deer were fitted with GPS tracking collars.
In the past, only the females are fitted with GPS collars. This is because the males’ necks can expand during the breeding season which means that the collars can snap and break.
This year we have acquired special elastic collars that expand when needed and thus were able to fit collars to some of the males as well.
Nadav Ganot, the Zoo’s #conservation project coordinator, reports that all the deer are doing well in the acclimatization enclosure and in the coming weeks, the gates to the enclosure will be opened and the deer will be free to go into the wild. This process usually takes a few days.
The project is in partnership with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
We are pleased to update that, from what we know up until now, there were no fatalities among our deer herd during the devastating fires in the Jerusalem hills several months ago.
A number of our trail cameras were burnt but no corpses have been found.
We also have a number of photos and sightings of the deer returning to the area.
The Zoo has a new conservation coordinator, who will be taking responsibility for Persian fallow deer program, as well as the other native conservation programs at the Zoo.
Nadav Granot has a Master of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Ecology and his Master's Thesis was on the topic of: “Examination of Time-place Association in The Foraging Behavior of Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus)”
He is already working with one of the students on the Zoo’s matriculation program researching the topic: “The effect of forest fires on the behavior and movement of Persian fallow deer in the area of the Nahal Sorek Reserve.”
This work will examine whether there is a difference in the herd’s movement of before and after the forest fire in the Judean hills in August 2021 and the research will utilize data collection from field trips, use of trail cameras and analysis of deer movement data (data from GPS collar transmitters).
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