22-26 April 2019
Jabal Moussa is one of the three biosphere reserves in Lebanon. It is a small mountain range which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the West. The reserve is characterized by an incredible biodiversity: it grows there 215 types of plants and 20 different species of trees, 11 of which are endemic. Over 16 different mammals have been discovered, including hyena, wolf, rock hyrax, etc…
The site has also been designated „Global IBA“ – Important Bird Area, dut to all the migratory birds that fly over the site in fall and spring. The APJM (Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa) manages and is involved in the protection and rehabilitation of the site and has helped to preserve a minimum of the wildlife of this mountain. The hiking trails are very well marked and maintained. Many villagers get involved and an entire economy is trying to build around ecotourism.
Poaching is still frequent there but, according to the statements of members of the association met on the spot, the situation is improving slowly and they have finally found political relays which allow them to bring the police when the hunters enter the perimeter of the reserve ; it is implied that until then it did not even move…
The reality on the field still makes us doubt that the curse of hunting has disappeard. Indeed, for a Mediterranean region in spring, the quantity and diversity of birdsongs heard was more like a European forest in the middle of winter…Also, the case cartridges encountered are still numerous…
We stayed in two different bed and breakfast. The first one, the Keyrouz Guesthouse,is in the small and charming hamlet called Al iibre, just at the foot of the trails. Rita, the host of this place, is lovely and really took care of us. Her meals are delicious and huge and the prices are really affordable.
We spent our last night in Ghbeleh, a large village further away from the reserve, at Murielle Dimitriades, in a pretty house with very nice hosts too.
The active migration was extraordinary in Jabal Moussa : many White Storks, including a group of more than 500, a dozen species of Raptors, Common Crane and many passerines including a few Eurasian Golden Oriole, which we had never seen before in active migration.
We must also mention the millions of Vanesse thistlesPainted lady (Vanessa cardui, Lepidopterae) going north. This show alone was worth the trip!
A meeting with a Hermann’s Tortoise was most joyful and signs of the Porcupine pleasantly ended our stay at Jabal Moussa. The flora is simply amazing.
The other visited regions:
- Pine forest near Qsaybeh and Aammiq wetland (Bekka plain)