To save the mountain gazelle, an endangered species according to the IUCN, a park dedicated to this animal has opened in the heart of Jerusalem (Israel).

The quadrupeds were decimated by the construction of a road, which confined them in the hollow of a valley.

The road also prevented them from reaching other green spaces.

Created in 2015, the “gazelle valley park” did not seek to keep animals away from the city, on the contrary.

The park is bordered on the east by the earthworks for a future tram line, at the foot of building bars, and on the west by the towers of Holyland, a vast building complex.

In 2015, there were only three mountain gazelles left in Jerusalem.

To remedy this, the defenders of wildlife have made an unusual bet: create a park in the middle of the city to reconstitute the herd of this threatened mammal https://t.co/MJBnughdbB #AFP @delphmat pic.twitter.com/azzODAJMMe

- Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) December 1, 2021

The herd is back

It is the only space in Israel where gazelles live protected, in freedom.

The Société de protection de la nature (SPN), which created the park with the town hall, first reintroduced a dozen animals.

“There were only three gazelles left when we started fencing” the park, explains director Yael Hammerman-Solar.

Today it has more than 80 individuals.

“The construction of the ring road blocked the corridor that allowed gazelles to reach other open spaces outside of Jerusalem,” says the director.

The animals, stuck in the valley, were wiped out by stray dogs and jackals, or were run over by cars on the ring road.

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An “urban kidney” for the city

About 5,000 mountain gazelles remain in various parts of Israel, according to a study published in 2020 in

The International Journal of Conservation

.

According to the study, habitat fragmentation, human presence in new areas, collisions with cars, proliferation of stray dogs and hunting are the main causes of the species' depletion.

Urban parks like that of Jerusalem, two-thirds of the surface of which have been left in their natural state, are essential in areas of massive urban development.

"The park acts like an urban kidney by regulating the temperature, by producing oxygen," explains an official of the SPN.

[It] offers residents a place to connect with nature.

"

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