Area: 172500 Dunam

Handed over: 172500 Dunam

Land owner: Government

Ecozone: Eastern slopes

Annual rainfall: 200-400 mm

Nearby village:  Yatta, Beni Na’im

About Al-Kanub

Looking at the beautiful slopes located in the northeastern part of the town of Sa’er, near Hebron, certainly means looking at a unique environment. Al-Kanub Reserve extends over an area of ​​approximately 172500 dunams (172.5 km2). It is considered to be one of the largest nature reserves in the south of the West Bank. Due to its location this reserve does not have a green environment, but has a desert landscape. 

Some of the areas of the reserve are 750 meters above sea level, and other areas are 200 meters below sea level. This extreme decline is visible as we head towards the east, overlooking the Dead Sea.

The large reserve is bordering a lot of towns near Hebron, for instance Bani Na’im. Another boarder is Sa’er and Arab Al-Rashaida, where the inhabitants originally lived east of Beit Sahour, which extends to the Dead Sea area and Ein Gedi. Over the last years it became a very famous spot for tourists who want to spend a night in nature and wild-life.

In the past few years, some touristic trails were randomly formed in this reserve. This allowed the residents of the West Bank and other visitors of Palestine to discover new geographic styles.

The reserve is also bordering Wadi Hajjar. It contains more than 20 old wells and agricultural land which is suitable for planting horticulture trees and summer plantings; it exceeds more than 500 dunams. The average rainfall ranges are between 200 to 400mm per year, this causes the diversity of the wild plants.

Many projects have been implemented by the official Palestinian institutions over the past years in order to protect the biodiversity in the region from destruction. Nevertheless that did not prevent a number of abusers from harming some of the wild animals that live in the area.

The residents of the area say that different shrubs grow in this reserve such as retama and jujube, which suffered in the past decades due to timber cutting. People have made use of the branches through cooking. Besides the shrubs, there are many other plants growing in the reserve which have been used for medical purposes. 

In recent years a variety of animals were seen in this reserve, including ibex, which resides in its native land overlooking the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi.

The warm air currents on the eastern outskirts of the reserve help the birds to fly without making a lot of effort. A big variety of birds exist there, such as the golden eagle which is rarely found in Palestine. Other flying birds like storks, ravens and owls occur as well and can be seen nesting in some caves, in the region that goes back to ancient historical periods.

The visitors can walk around freely in a large area which is leading to the archaeological spots in the town of Bani Na’im. Visitors can buy food from the town's restaurants and grocery stores and also have the opportunity go towards the center of the city of Hebron and visit the religious and archaeological sites.

Use of natural resources and ecosystem services

Al-Kanub is extensively used for grazing, both by villagers from its surroundings and as well by people from Al-Kaabneh and Arab Al-Rashaydeh. These people live there with more than 10,000 sheep and goats. The area described, represents the main grazing area for their animals in the West Bank.

The household use is bible hysopp, common mallow, chamomile, tumble thistle, achillea and felty germander. Concerning the fuel wood, there is only a limited availability, nevertheless there is the use from uprooting of shrubs.

The reserve is an important wildlife watching area and a potentially recreational hunting area in the spring. During the spring time more than 100 visitors come to the reserve per week.

Pressures and Threats

Threats to the reserve are the grazing by sheep and goats and the associated land use practices (e.g. uprooting of shrubs, included under “logging”). These are the main pressures on Al-Kanub, whereas climate change may become an additional threat to the area in the future. This might threaten the area with further desertification and degradation.