Reintroduced Nubian Ibex species in the West Bekaa caught on camera, while restoration work of degraded pastures is underway

By Lina Sarkis (Al Shouf Cedar Society) and Jamal Hamzeh (Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon)

Summer is peaceful for the Nubian Ibex in the Aana enclosure in the West Bekaa, within the Shouf Biosphere Reserve. This species, which disappeared from Lebanon towards the end of the 18th century, was reintroduced through efforts led by Al Shouf Cedar Society. In October 2017, 12 heads were brought in from Wadi Rum, Jordan.

We unfortunately lost 4, happily had 11 births, and can now see 19 Ibexes roaming the open spaces within the enclosure, climbing the steep rocks with their strong hoofs and waiting for their upcoming release into the wild. Camera traps have been placed to observe them, and this allowed us to witness some spectacular fights between the males during mating season. Otherwise they are peaceful animals, the females stay with the youngsters and the males follow them around, keeping their distance.

As part of efforts to restore West Bakaa landscape multi-functionality and its associated cultural practices, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) developed a management and restoration plan for degraded high mountain pastures in the Himas of West Bekaa in collaboration with the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at the American University of Beirut and jointly implemented it with local municipalities and shepherds.


Digging to build cement water reservoirs for the herd © SPNL

The design restoration plan covered mountain areas between Saghbine and Ain Zebdeh mountains, and more specifically, the 15-hectare demo-plot of Hima Ain Zebdeh. The rehabilitation plan includes rotational grazing, water management, and re-seeding of native legumes. In order to ensure the involvement and commitment of involved stakeholders, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between SPNL, the municipality of Ain Zebdeh and the municipality of Saghbine. 

In addition, 1,150 vaccines were distributed to shepherds as an incentive to encourage them to respect the grazing plan and motivate them to take care of natural pastures and not to graze in newly-afforested areas where grazing is not permitted.

Feature image: A fight between males © Shouf Biosphere Reserve