UPDATE: We got a report from our friends at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo that skies are clear in the area.
“Reports are that the deer are okay. They have an area which is not burnt and has food,” said the zoo’s Rachael Risby Raz.You can read our initial report on the fire situation below and learn more about the struggles with wildlife in Israel and how you can support the Persian fallow deer project.
Here’s a photo from this morning from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority showing one of the fallow deer bucks post-fire.
Israel—A major wildfire is burning in the Jerusalem Hills area.
We were contacted about the fires this morning by our friends at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo who we partner with via donations to their important and successful Persian fallow deer restoration project.
An article in The Jerusalem Post quoted Fire Chief Insp.-Gen. Dedi Simchithe saying the blaze was human-caused, although it was still unclear if it was an accident, due to negligence or intentionally sparked.
Other sources point directly to arson, which makes this even more tragic.
“The thick smoke from the fire was seen from Jerusalem as the skies darkened over the city,” said Rachael Risby Raz with the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.
Zoo officials saw the smoke overhead and ashes fell at the zoo, which is around 15 kilometers away from where the center of the blaze was.
“Our thoughts went immediately to our Persian fallow deer, who are part of the Zoo’s successful re-introduction project in the Jerusalem Hills. The acclimatization enclosure for the project and the main area where the deer live is in the area of Nahal Sorek,” Raz said.
The Zoo conservation team were in touch with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, who are their partners in this important endeavor, throughout the day and night.
“Luckily the fire did not go down from the direction of Har HaTayassim to the Nahal Sorek gorge. This is good news for our deer, they had a place to go. The vast majority of the area in which they are concentrated has not been damaged,” Raz said.
We will keep you updated as we believe this is one of the planet’s most important conservation projects.
This year zoo officials reported the breeding herd there had 13 fawns and there have been several generations of deer born in the wild.
Restoring this deer of the Garden of Eden to the Holy Land is a worthy project and one we recommend you support if possible.
Our prayers are with Jerusalem, Israel, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and their conservation projects.