Thursday, August 28, 2014

Exploring Morocco's Tazekka National Park

The Tazekka National Park is one of the great parks in Morocco. It was created in 1950 with only 580 hectares of land in order to protect the many natural resources that could be found at Jbel Tazekka in the Middle Atlas mountain range. The park proved to be a successful venture and today it covers an area of approximately 12,800 hectares of land

The Tazekka National Park in Morocco was created with the main goal of protecting a grove of cedar trees (Cedrus atlantica) found in the Jbel Tazekka area. The park has since been extended on more than one occasion to include a variety of natural habitats. It now features forests of cork oak and holm oak, caves, canyons, rural landscapes, cascades and a mountain – Jbel Tazekka - which is some 1 980 meters high. The interesting variety of altitudes and resulting flora is home to a variety of wildlife and the national park has become a haven for bird watchers. The park was first extended in 1989 and now includes a central core zone of 2,500 hectares and a cork-oak production zone of 6,000 hectares. The original parcel of land is a tourist zone and features a number of excellent forests that make for particularly good nature hikes. There is information displayed about the length and difficulty of each hike.  For our report on the caves, see HERE

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 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.

Barbary deer (Cervus elaphus barbarous)

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.

A group of Barbary wild boar

The Barbary wild boar is another mammalian inhabitant of the National Park. It is best seen in 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.

The common genet

Other mammals found in the 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).

A Golden Jackel

The fact that the area is protected by law has not put a damper on local citizens who have long used the region to raise their livestock and grow a variety of agricultural products. As a result the eastern slopes of Jbel Tazekka have been overgrazed. However, the local population fully supports conservation efforts and they work together with forest-conservation authorities to ensure the continued survival of this massive natural area.

North African hedgehog
Crested porcupine

Recent years have seen a drastic improvement in tourist facilities with the development of better roads, tourist circuits, picnic areas and even an ecological museum. This has resulted in great numbers of tourists visiting the Tazekka National Park. If you should wish to visit this park  please take care not to disturb the natural way of things to the greatest degree possible and so contribute to the continued survival of this incredible national park.

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1 comment:

jANI Jack said...

I agree with you friend! The Tazekka National Park was to created to protect the natural resources at the top from Jbel Tazekka. This park is best for animal lovers. My uncle has been there before tours to niagara falls with his business Partner. After get back he told me we can easily find any types of animal in this park. This Park includes mountain Jbel Tazekka. This dominates the Surrounding area. This Park is located in the Middle Atlas, near the city of Taza. I wish I had visited there before die.