After more than a century of absence and decades of speculations, the Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana) is making a comeback in Lebanon through a reintroduction project promoted by the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR). The initiative is coherent with the country’s commitments and goals under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity as it represents an important step to restore the past biodiversity of the Shouf Mountains and to reconstruct the natural zoocenosis of Lebanon.
Specific inquiries have, in fact, permitted to clearly state that Nubian ibex is an indigenous species of Lebanon that became extinct in the country in the middle of the 19th century for large scale habitat destruction and overhunting. The comeback of this iconic native species must therefore be considered a major added environmental value to the richness of the ecosystem of the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, but also a unique opportunity to educate local people to the importance and value of biodiversity.
Following the directions of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “a captive breeding plan” preparatory for a “subsequent re-introduction program” was developed in 2016 through preliminary studies by experts and the transfer of a first herd of ibex from Jordan to a fenced area located on the eastern side of the Shouf mountain range. The first group of 12 ibexes reached Lebanon in October 2017 and, after three breeding seasons, the herd is now composed of 18 specimens that are still kept in semi-captivity in a 30-hectares fenced area. More ibex specimens are expected to arrive in the near future, thanks to partnership agreements.
An action plan for the release of the Nubian Ibex was developed and it foresees the release of the first 15 specimens in 2020, in a suitable area of the Shouf mountains. This will be followed by more releases in 2021 and 2022, for a total of 45 specimens, which are considered the minimum viable population threshold in Lebanon. The released animals will be carefully monitored to verify their adaptation to the new environment. At the same time, actions to involve local communities will be pursued to raise awareness on the importance of the initiative and discourage hunting practices. A five-year management and monitoring plan was produced, which includes guidelines for the management of silvo-pastoral habitats and a strategy to avoid conflicts between the species and sheep-goats.
Project 192522393 location - Lebanon, Asia