Established in 1988, Ajloun Reserve is located in the Ajloun Highlands in northern Jordan, around the village of Umm al-Yanabi in the north of Ajloun.
It is an area of rolling hills covered by dense woodlands of evergreen oak, interspersed with pistachio, carob, and wild strawberry trees. The trees have been important to local people for their wood, scenic beauty, and quite often for medicine and food. These woodlands are like the original forest animals, including herds of wild boar.
A captive-breeding programme for the locally extinct roe deer was initiated and an enclosure has been built on site, so they can be released into the forest in the near future. The roe deer is adapted to local forest habitat, and feeds on a variety of trees, shrubs and grasses.
The rich Mediterranean-like forests that covered the Ajloun area provided an ideal habitat for millennia. However, deforestation and desertification over the past 200 years led to the decline in numbers of the roe deer. Three roe deer were introduced to the captive breeding enclosure in Ajloun in 1988, from a similar habitat in Turkey.
Today, there are sixteen roe deer at Ajloun. The Persian Fallow Deer is another species that was once common in Jordan. This animal probably became extinct by the beginning of the 20th century and its re-introduction is now being pursued.
Ajloun’s Castle (Qal’at Ar-Rabad) was built by one of Saladin’s generals in 1184 to control the iron mines of Ajloun, and to deter the Franks from invading Ajloun. Ajloun Castle dominated the three main routes leading to the Jordan valley and protected the trade and commercial routes between Jordan and Syria, it became an important link in the defensive chain against the Crusaders, who, unsuccessfully spend decades trying to capture the castle and the nearby village.