Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land

by The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Bringing Biblical Deer to the Holy Land
Four individuals are released at Nahal Soreq
Four individuals are released at Nahal Soreq

We are excited to report that two weeks ago, 4 more Persian fallow deer were released at the Nahal Soreq site in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem.

For this release, we are testing a new and smaller type of transmitter with a lighter battery compared to other models. The transmitter has cellular broadcasting capability with a local SIM card, so they can send messages at varying frequencies.

Since transmitter collars are attached to the necks of animals, so far mostly females have been fitted with the devices because male necks expand during the breeding season which means that the non-elastic collars can snap and be discarded. However, this time we were able to fit some males with transmitters also.

We hope that for the first time we will be able to receive real-time information about the released males – which have, until now, been observed and assessed based on ground observations and surveillance cameras.

Overall, we are trying to obtain a more comprehensive picture of the distribution of the species from the Nahal Soreq reserve. With more intensive monitoring using surveillance cameras and transmitters, we will also be able to obtain new information about wild-born fawns and unmarked adults who have survived in the wild. 

The threats to the species in the Nahal Soreq area have decreased somewhat in recent years, but still exist. In the years 2011-2014, feral dogs and train accidents caused the cessation of the project however, today the number of dogs in the reserve has decreased considerably and the threat has been removed from the reserve area.

In a week’s time, we will release a further 4 individuals – three males and one female. All 8 individuals released this month are being released on a “soft release” basis, meaning that they first enter an acclimatization area so that they can acclimatize to not being fed and having to forage for their own food; before being freed to wander further afield.

A newspaper article (in Hebrew) can be accessed via the link below.

Thank you so much for your continued support of this program!

Released deer fitted with transmitters
Released deer fitted with transmitters

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A collared female with her fawn born in the wild
A collared female with her fawn born in the wild

Hello Persian Fallow Deer Supporters! We have a lot to share in this report.

Since the last release of individuals at the Nahal Soreq release site, we have sadly confirmed the loss of one deer. However, our last release also included one pregnant female so we have high hopes that she has given birth in the wild and that the fawn will survive.

Presently, we have 3 females and 7 males ready to be released this winter. The release will probably be sometime in January, depending on the weather and how much green foliage and grass is available (rainfall has been less than usual this fall). We plan to again release a pregnant female.

For the next release we had hoped to have as many as 3 GPS collars which greatly aid tracking and monitoring. We piloted some GPS collars in our last 2 releases. From that experience, we were able to go back to the manufacturer (a local manufacturer here in Israel) with better information on how to customize the collars for use on deer. They have now produced 5 experimental collars specifically intended for use on deer released into the wild including the development of software especially for our purposes. Thanks to a generous private donor, we have been able to afford the cost of all 5 collars for the next release.

If successful, this could produce a huge breakthrough for local wildlife conservation because (a) we will be able to more successfully track both males and females – previously collars could be used only on females; (b) this could lead to the collars being perfected for use in deer; and (c) if successful, production on a larger scale could lead to a significant cost reduction in the future.

So, please send positive thoughts our way and we look forward to reporting back to you again in the coming months. Thank you for being a part of this project– we appreciate your generosity and support!

With warm wishes from -

Team Fallow Deer at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

INPA ranger with test GPS tracking collar
INPA ranger with test GPS tracking collar
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Deer at the Jerusalem Zoo breeding core
Deer at the Jerusalem Zoo breeding core

Over the summer, our team have continued to track and monitor the deer released into the wild. The good news is that they all appear to be doing well.

In the meantime, we are also planning for the next release in a few months’ time. In that release some of the deer will be fitted with GPS tracking collars (as opposed to the radio telemetry tracking collars that are currently in use). Various collars have been tested over the last year to find one that is both accurate and robust. The advantage of GPS tracking over radio telemetry tracking is that monitoring can be done from a computer terminal and reduces the need for staff to go out into the release area to track the deer physically.

We are also currently recruiting a full time coordinator for this project so that data can be collected, stored and analyzed more speedily and more accurately.

Thank you for being a part of this project– we appreciate your generosity and support!

With warm wishes from -

Team Fallow Deer at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

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New fallow deer from Opel Zoo in Germany
New fallow deer from Opel Zoo in Germany

Since we last reported to you, we have released a further 10 deer into the wild at the Nahal Soreq Nature Reserve near Jerusalem. We were also privileged to receive new individuals to widen the genetic pool of our breeding group from Opel Zoo in Germany. These new deer were accompanied on their journey from Germany by Baron von Opel and his family, who were also present for the release of some deer into the wild. Baron von Opel’s father was the explorer who rediscovered the species in the 1950’s. Read more about their journey by accessing the article link below.

Thank you for being a part of this project– we appreciate your generosity and support!

With warm wishes from -

Team Fallow Deer at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

Baron Gregor von Opel accompanied the new deer
Baron Gregor von Opel accompanied the new deer
A deer released at the Nahal Soreq Nature Reserve
A deer released at the Nahal Soreq Nature Reserve

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Released deer exploring their new environment
Released deer exploring their new environment

As reported previously, we postponed our planned October/November release of Persian fallow deer because of unseasonably dry weather conditions. We’re so pleased to report that we released five deer into the wild at the Nahal Soreq nature reserve (an unfenced protected area near Jerusalem) at the beginning of February.

Two of the deer were fitted with trial GPS tracking collars which should be far more accurate and easier to use than radio telemetry tracking collars. The aim is to test how well these collars work before making a decision on further expenditure (they’re rather expensive!).

We look forward to letting you know in the next report how our deer are getting on.

Thank you for being a part of this project– we appreciate your generosity and support!

With warm wishes from -

Team Fallow Deer at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

Fitting tracking collars prior to release
Fitting tracking collars prior to release
Anaesthetized deer placed in transportation crates
Anaesthetized deer placed in transportation crates
Happy onlookers see a deer released into the wild
Happy onlookers see a deer released into the wild
A new GPS tracking collar is tested
A new GPS tracking collar is tested
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Organization Information

The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem

Location: Jerusalem, Israel - Israel
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @BiblicalZoo
Project Leader:
Nicole Wexler
Jerusalem, Israel
$15,775 raised of $20,000 goal
 
171 donations
$4,225 to go
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