The Palestinian Terrestrial Vertebrate Fauna Preserved at the Biology Exhibitions of the Universities of the Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip (365 km2 ) of Palestine (27,000 km2 ) is home to a wealth of terrestrial vertebrate fauna. Some of these faunistic species find their ways to preservation at the local universities. Hence, the current study comes to document the Palestinian terrestrial vertebrate fauna acquired by the biology exhibitions (BEs) of Al-Azhar University, Islamic University of Gaza and Al-Aqsa University that are located at the Gaza City of the Gaza Strip. The amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals preserved at BEs of the universities in question were surveyed and scientifically classified during a three-month period extending from January to March, 2012. The study showed that all BEs of local universities are underdeveloped, lacking attention and suffer from specimen scarcity and good preservation. The BE at Al-Azhar University is the best in the arrangement and preservation of bird specimens. A total number of 200 specimens belonging to 54 terrestrial vertebrate fauna species, 39 families and 17 orders was recorded at BEs. Reptiles constituted 40.7% of the total species recorded, followed by birds (38.9%), mammals (14.8%) and amphibians (5.6%). The Islamic University of Gaza was considered the best in terms of the number of preserved species (39.8%), followed by Al-Azhar University (36.3%) and Al-Aqsa University (23.9%). The Common Toad (Bufo viridis) was the most preserved among the amphibian species recorded. Squamata was the biggest reptilian order, comprising 20 species (8 lizards and 12 snakes), with the Syrian Black Snake (Coluber jugularis asianus) was the commonest. The Palestine Viper (Vipera palaestinae) is endemic to Palestine and most venomous and dangerous to human health. The Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) was the largest Palestinian bird preserved at BE of Al-Azhar University. The Egyptian Mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) and the Common Badger (Meles meles) were the biggest mammalian specimens preserved, while the Palestine Mole-rat (Spalax leucodon ehrenbergi) was the only Palestine endemic species encountered among the preserved mammals. Finally, the improvement of BEs of local universities and the construction of a Central Museum of Natural History is highly recommended in order to change the Palestinians’ attitudes toward a sustainable ecological conservation in the Gaza Strip.
Keywords:Terrestrial vertebrate fauna, Preservation, Biology exhibitions, Gaza universities, Gaza Strip, Palestine
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