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Abstract

A long-term systematic approach to planning the reintroduction of Persian fallow deer (Dama dama mesopotamica) and Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) in Israel is presented. The reintroductions rely on local breeding-cores that are at their holding capacity of 150 deer and 80 oryx. The approach is based on three elements: (1) maximizing the number of animals that can be withdrawn from a permanent breeding core for the purpose of reintroduction using ‘maximum sustained yield’ (MSY) techniques; (2) determining a priori, using rules-of-thumb (such as IUCN Red List Categories), preliminary criteria for project completion; and (3) estimating the time it would take the reintroduced populations to meet the criteria for project completion. I used Monte Carlo Leslie matrix growth models to determine MSY and to project the growth of the reintroduced population. Based on these simulations, the MSY for the fallow deer breeding-core is 15 adult females in the first year and 12 adult females/year thereafter. The oryx breeding-core can yield 12 adult females during the first year and 16 adult females every third year thereafter. Project completion was preliminarily set to a wild population of 250 adult deer and 100 adult oryx. The simulations predict that it will take 8–11 years to complete the fallow deer reintroduction and 6–10 years to complete the oryx reintroduction. Post-release monitoring will help improve the data used in the model and permit re-assessment of the criteria for project completion.