IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

Distribution

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Range Description

The Persian Fallow Deer formerly occurred in Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and eastern Turkey (Hemami and Rabiei 2002). It was depicted in relief artwork dated prior to the 9th century BC and in ancient times its range probably included North Africa from Tunisian border to the Red Sea. By 1875 it was restricted to southwestern and western Iran, having disappeared from the rest of its range. It was considered extinct, but a small population was rediscovered in southwestern Iran in 1956. The only surviving indigenous wild populations are in Dez Wildlife Refuge and Karkeh Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Iran (though the population in Karkeh has also been restocked with animals from the Dasht-e-Naz Wildlife Refuge).

There are reintroduced populations in Iran as follows: Dasht-e-Naz Wildlife Refuge in northern Iran; Semeskandeh Wildlife Refuge in northern Iran; Ashk and Kaboudan Islands in Lake Uromiyeh (Uromiyeh National Park); and the Miankotal enclosure in Arjan and Parishan Protected Area. All these reintroduced populations are either in enclosures or on islands. Some of the animals in Semeskandeh Wildlife Refuge are hybrids with Dama dama, although the hybrids and pure-bred animals are maintained in separate populations. Introductions to Shiri, Lavan, Kish Islands in the Persian Gulf were probably not successful.

In Israel a reintroduction program for Persian Fallow Deer has been underway since 1996 with more than 250 animals in the wild today. The breeding nucleus in Israel was founded in 1976 from three animals (two males and one female) from the Opel Zoo and four females from Semeskandeh facility in Iran. Animals at the Semeskandeh facility were received from Opel in 1973 and were suspected in to be hybrids with the European Fallow Deer. However, all hybrids produced at Opel were reported to have been disposed of in 1965-66 (Jantschke 1991). Genetic studies of the Israeli population revealed low genetic diversity (over 95% similarity between individuals), which suggests no hybridization. None of the individuals in the Israeli population exhibits the morphological traits typical of European fallow deer (palmate antlers or a relatively long bushy tail with a central black streak).

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© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

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