Wildlife of Tazekka National Park
Located near the city of Taza in Morocco’s Middle Atlas mountain range, Tazekka National Park has varied terrain offering habitats to a wide range of reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals, with the latter including the rare Barbary deer (Cervus elaphus barbarous). Also known as the Atlas deer, the Barbary deer was once extinct in Morocco, but was reintroduced into Tazekka National Park through a Moroccan-German collaboration launched in 1994. Initially two males and six females were transported from Tunisia to Tazekka where they were allocated a reserve of 1.5 hectares. Unfortunately, two of the females died upon arrival, but the remaining animals appeared in good health and in 1995, ten Barbary deer were counted in the reserve. More recently up to seventy deer have been observed in an area of around five hundred hectares within the park.
The Barbary wild boar is another mammalian inhabitant of Tazekka National Park, preferring the park’s wooded areas where it spends early mornings and late afternoons foraging for food. While their preferred food appears to be roots, nuts, berries, tubers and other plant matter, Barbary wild boars are known to eat just about anything they find, including carrion, ground-nesting birds, insects and small reptiles. Females and their offspring of varying ages live in groups, while males are solitary and only seek out company during breeding season. Females are known to defend their young fearlessly by charging the intruder with a wide open mouth and biting if given the chance. Males respond to intruders by lowering their heads, charging and slashing upward with their tusks. As the wild ancestors of domestic pigs, wild boars have many species and subspecies in different parts of the world. Although they can be predatory, they serve an important role in the environment as scavengers and seed dispersers.
Other mammals found in Tazekka National Park include the crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata), common otter (Lutra lutra), common genet (Genetta genetta), North African hedgehog (Atelerix algirus), golden jackal (Canis aureus) and the red fox (Vulpes vulpes).