On the Hunting of, and Threats Facing, the Cape Hare (Lepus capensis Linnaeus, 1758) in the Gaza Strip, Palestine

Abdel Fattah N. Abd Rabou

Abstract


The Cape Hare (Lepus capensis Linnaeus, 1758) is the only lagomorph in Palestine (27,000 km2). Although it was common in the Gaza Strip 4-5 decades ago, its present occurrence is restricted by several overlapping factors. The current study aims to spotlight the hunting of, and the threats facing, Cape Hares in the Gaza Strip (365 km2). This descriptive study, which lasted 5 years (2016 – 2020), was based on frequent field visits and observations in addition to meetings and discussions with wildlife hunters and farmers. We found that the eastern parts of the Gaza Strip were the main hunting places for Cape Hares. The methods involved in hare hunting included shooting, foothold traps, live traps known locally as "maltash", net walls, pit traps and coursing which involves the use of greyhounds. Wildlife hunters described the hunting of Cape Hares as a complicated task due to its low occurrence, extreme caution, difficulty of tracking it, presence near the Israeli security fence, which poses a danger to hunters, in addition to the great experience and high concentration that such hunting requires. Cape Hares face several threats, some of which are Israeli, and some specific to Gazans and the environment of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli threats include the Israeli security fence which prevents the natural flow of wildlife between the Gaza Strip and the rest of the Palestinian territories, Israeli wars and invasions, and the Israeli spraying of herbicides at the eastern border areas of the Gaza Strip for claimed security reasons which eradicates the plant cover supporting hares and other fauna with shelter and food. The Gazan threats include urban encroachment at the expense of natural habitats, excessive use of chemical pesticides, overhunting of Cape Hares, noticeable increase of opportunistic carnivores feeding on Cape Hares, and weakness of environmental awareness campaigns and laws that protect wildlife. Finally, the study recommends the use of all possible means to sustainably protect and conserve wildlife including Cape Hares in the Gaza Strip.

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.33976/IUGNS.29.2/2021/2


Keywords


Cape Hares, Lepus capensis, wildlife hunters, hunting, threats, pesticides, Gaza Strip.

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