Monday, November 28, 2005

Jerusalem’s Urban Nature Reserve

Last Friday morning I went on a hike of Jerusalem’s Gazelle Valley, a beleaguered bit of green in the midst of the city. Our guide, Tzahi, was excellent. Here is how the American Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel describes it:

Gazelle Valley—Gazelles trapped by roads from all sides have made a home in a 25-acre valley in Southern Jerusalem. SPNI Jerusalem and nearby residents are working to preserve the site for the animals and build a nature and education center for all city residents to enjoy. Development plans for this tract have been defeated in recent years, but continued pressure to build on this unique habitat exists.

Looking across the valley to the busy street on the other side:

This is an enlargement of the image above. See the gazelle? (Look just to the right of center.) We had to use a telescope in order to see the herd properly, and I barely managed to capture them with my camera.

Evidence of their presence: tracks! (I saw plenty of another kind of evidence but in the interests of public decency, I didn’t photograph it.)

Deer tracks in the Gazelle Valley in Jerusalem

Finally, the residents of this community were busily preparing for the winter:

Ants bringing seeds into their nest for the winter

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