The Israel scene you have never seen

October 29, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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The Jewish National Fund will run a mission to Israel next year focused on the country’s natural heritage and wild life programs.

The Australian Federal CEO, Rob Schneider toldJ-Wire: “This is a first for JNF and exemplifies how our work has expanded beyond the realm of afforestation. It is an ongoing battle to preserve endangered species from biblical times as human population expands and consumes natural habitats But it is amazing that you can walk in the Carmel mountains and see hyenas, jackals. In the Negev there are wolves, jackals and if you are lucky you might be able to spot the famous Negev leopard.”

Schneider said that the Mission would include a visit to Israel’s Natural Heritage collection…it includes skins and artifacts going back many years including the last cheetah seen in Israel in Galilee in the 1930s. He added: “Israel’s Natural History Collection is housed in the University of Tel Aviv and exemplifies the need to ensure wild life continues to survive.”

According to Schneider who admits he has an intense interest in wild life, there has been interest in protecting the country’s wild life back to biblical days.

He added: “In the 1960s a General Jaffe became interested in the need to protect species mentioned in the Bible. I became involved in the project in the 1980s and I recall when the Shah was deposed in Iran, the last El Al flight out of Teheran brought two Mesopotamian  deer to Israel. Now there are a couple of hundred of them and will be featured at the Biblical reserve near Carmel…as well as the white oryx which breed in the south.”

The mission will also feature trips to areas in Israel populated by migratory birds. Schneider said: “This will be a major highlight as mission members travel in a disguised hide to get up close to the resting birds who use Israel as a stopping place during migration.”

Planned visits on the mission include bird-watching at Agamon HaHula, eagles’ nests at Gamla Nature Reserve, visiting the endangered soft-shelled turtles in the Carmel Mountains, the Biblical Landscape Reserve at Neot Kedumim, the Latrun Bird Monitoring Station, the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, an antelope farm in the Arava, flamingos at Eilat…and much much more including hikes and talks on nature Israel-style.

Visit Israel? Naturally!

The Mission will take place in April 2011.

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