50 shades of graze: Gazelles get their own nature park in Jerusalem
Jerusalem’s Gazelle Valley Nature Park will be opening to the public next Monday, a victory for local activists who conducted an unprecedented campaign against the construction of a neighborhood on the site.
Although the original gazelles in the valley – an area of some 250 dunams (62 acres) between the Katamonim, Givat Mordechai, and Holyland neighborhoods – did not survive, a new flock is establishing itself there.
Of course, the highlight of the park is the gazelles. The original flock was almost totally destroyed by roaming packs of dogs. Only one survived, and she is known as Madame X because of her crossed horns. Another male and female were brought from zoos, and they have produced two fawns. The plan now is to let the small flock reproduce on its own. The park is also home to porcupines, hedgehogs and moles, several species of snakes, some 200 species of bird and many insects.
“It’s not a park for picnics; this is a place making a statement that there’s a place for nature alongside urban development,” said Barkat yesterday, during a tour of the site. As if to prove his point, in the waters of the large lake in the lower part of the park, one can see the reflection of the controversial Holyland towers.
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