Poster Animal of Battle for Wildlife Crossing in Israel Run Over

Gazelle was in advanced stages of pregnancy when hit by a vehicle and died, postmortem reveals

Giselle at Ramat Hanadiv Park, northern Israel.
Amir Arnon, Ramat Hanadiv

The body of a gazelle that had come to symbolize the fight against construction blocking an animal crossing in northern Israel was found dead Wednesday morning.

The gazelle, known as Giselle, was hit by a vehicle in Gazelle Hill, an area of Ramat Hanadiv Park on Mount Carmel.

A postmortem at Ramat Hanadiv revealed that Giselle had been in an advanced stage of pregnancy.

>> Read more: Wolves, badgers and deer, oh my! Cameras catch rare animals crossing Israel's roadsIsrael Land Authority promoting construction on vital route for wildlife

Environmental activists and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel had been trying unsuccessfully in recent weeks to stop construction, which it said would block the animal crossing and force wild animals to cross roads, endangering their lives.

A few days before the work began, and after it started, Giselle was photographed by animal cameras in Ramat Hanadiv. Activists used the pictures, alongside images of the construction work, to try to halt the work.

Giselle was hit by a car and injured five years ago. An Israel Nature and Parks Authority ranger brought her to the animal hospital at the Ramat Gan Safari, where it was discovered she was pregnant. She was quickly rehabilitated and returned to her habitat, fitted with a GPS collar to monitor her movements.

The camera in Ramat Hanadiv Park afforded a rare glimpse into Giselle’s life, including giving birth to her young. According to SPNI and Ramat Hanadiv Park personnel: “The painful and needless death of the gazelle Giselle is a critical lesson in the importance of creating proper wildlife crossings.”

The SPNI noted that Gazelle Hill is an essential corridor among the open areas of Ramat Hanadiv, Alona Park and Mount Horshan to the east. The SPNI said the Israel Land Authority, which had launched the Wine Park project, was to blame for ignoring previous decisions that were to have ensured the animal crossing as an ecological corridor as part of the plan. The Israel Lands Authority rejected the claim and said that an ecological corridor would be part of the plan.

Giselle was a Palestine mountain gazelle, a species that survives only in Israel and in one other spot in the Middle East, and is considered critically endangered.