Abigail Klein Leichman
November 29, 2022, Updated December 12, 2022

Winter is approaching, and the 80 gazelles that inhabit Gazelle Valley urban nature park in Jerusalem are preparing to survive the cold rainy weather by changing their diet and habits.

Amanda Lind, director of the park on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), says the gazelles switch from eating dry grass to fallen leaves as well as almonds and olives, which are rich in nutrients and oils that provide a lot of energy.

Jerusalem’s 80 urban gazelles prepare for winter
Photo by Amir Balaban at Gazelle Valley, Jerusalem.

Furthermore, the animals are doing instinctual physical training to stay warm and in shape.

“In the evenings, the gazelles go for a warmup run before the temperatures drop,” Lind said.

Jerusalem’s 80 urban gazelles prepare for winter
An inhabitant of Gazelle Valley, Jerusalem. Photo by Amir Balaban/SPNI

The park’s stationery cameras have captured videos of as many as 54 deer per minute passing by.

“As you can see, the run is joined by almost all the animals in the herd and it can last for many minutes,” said herd manager Efrat Yagur.

This is a heartening scene, because the Eretz Yisrael mountain gazelle is an endangered species worldwide, with only about 5,000 individuals left in the wild.

“The main danger to gazelles in the wild is the destruction of natural habitats and the construction of roads, which interrupt their habitats and isolate them from their own kind,” said Amir Balaban, director of urban nature at SPNI.

“Therefore, we and other entities are fighting to save every open area and ecological corridor that is still left and at the same time, trying to optimize the planning so that the development will include significant ecological passages,” said Balaban.

Jerusalem’s 80 urban gazelles prepare for winter
This scene at Gazelle Valley was caught by Amir Balaban. Photo courtesy of SPNI

“Additional dangers to gazelle life are illegal hunters, who hunt them mainly for the purpose of trading in their meat and skins; and an extreme proliferation of stray dogs and jackals, which prey on the gazelles and their fawns,” he added.

Jerusalem’s 80 urban gazelles prepare for winter
At Jerusalem’s Gazelle Valley, the public can watch local animals prepare for winter. Photo by Dov Greenblat

Admission to Gazelle Valley is free. On weekends, staff members are in the field to explain more about the winter preparations of the gazelles and the other wildlife at the nature park including birds, turtles, waterfowl and reptiles. The site is accessible to people with disabilities and is open in the winter months from 6:30am to 5pm.

For more information, click here.

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