The small population of mountain gazelles that lives on the border with Syria in Turkey’s southern Hatay province continued to grow last year, numbering 1,141 at the end of 2020.
The vulnerable species (Gazella gazella) numbered just 150 in 2009, when they were first counted in Hatay’s Kırıkhan district.
A station established by the Directorate General of Nature Conservation and National Parks for the conservation of the mountain gazelles in Kırıkhan has been monitoring the species and recorded the population size as 757 at the end of 2018 and 925 at the end of 2019.
The Kırıkhan chief of the Nature Conservation and National Parks Hatay Branch, Nuri Akın, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the population grew by 23% from 2019 to 2020.
The survey at the end of 2020 was carried out by 35 personnel at 49 observation points over three days, he said.
“Gazella gazella are among the endangered species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said that only 3,000 of this species remain in the world and they are only found in Israel and Turkey,” Akın said.
Akın said there are ongoing efforts in the region to protect the mountain gazelles. The Mountain Gazelles Reproduction Station carries out observation, treatment and care for the species, working to increase its numbers.
“Gazelles raised at the Mountain Gazelles Reproduction Station, which was established in 2014 in the Kırıkhan district, to ensure the continuation of the generation of this species are released to suitable habitats when a certain number is reached,” enabling the species to survive, Akın said.
The number of mountain gazelles has increased along with a rise in awareness among locals of their importance, he added.
The mountain gazelle is one of the species of gazelles found in the Middle East, along with several other closely related species. This species of gazelle is recognizable by its slender, long neck and legs. Its natural habitat is mountainous and hilly terrain with light forests, fields or desert plateaus.