Isreal is a small country in Near East, but with a fundamental role in wildlife conservancy, thanks to its location at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa, making it one of the busiest flyways of migratory birds.
Israel is also known as the Start-up Nation, being internationally renowned for its creativity in technology, and 2 applications stand above others in their use to benefit people, as well as the wildlife, setting an example for other countries, that technological innovations can and should be employed, to mitigate some of the negative impacts on the environment that result from our current way of living. Firstly, as extensively explained in Seth Siegel‘s book “Let there be Water“, Isreal managed, through technological innovation but also good practice and education, not only to avoid a water crisis due to its geographic reality (biggest part of the country being desert or semi-desert) and high population density, but to be self-sustainable from agricultural point of view (most water-intensive activity) and even become a fresh water exporter (through sewage treatment and re-usage in agriculture, water efficient drip irrigation, desalinization, underground aquifers usage, fair pricing of water to its population without government subsidies, extensive school education in water usage and floods water capture infrastructure)! Israel has come a long way to reach this status in water availability and practices and now can afford to allocate some of this fresh water and land into conservancy (government is still in charge of its water resources and its distribution, this has never been privatized in Israel by current market models of other developed countries, where even if regulated, the main stakeholder would only be interested in profit, which would be proportional with higher irresponsible consumption by population), for few key locations used by birds every year (managed by Israel Nature and Park Authority, birding sites click here) as resting and feeding ground on their annual journey from Nordic plains in summer to warm grounds in Africa in winter. The second invention was of special radars to monitor the seasonal bird migrations and adjust the time-table and routes of their military and commercial flights to avoid the risk of collision with the birds, reducing the number of incidents from 123 in 1983 to reportedly less than 10 per year in present, again benefiting both people and wildlife!
In terms of land conservation for wildlife mammals unfortunately only the minimum possible seems to have been made, with some iconic Biblical species (the Somali Wild Ass, the Addax, the White Oryx or the Onger), living in large enclosures, like the one we visited called Hay-Bar Nature Reserve. The Negev desert was once the home also for the iconic Arabian leopard, but since 2017 it is considered officially extinct, at least in Dead Sea area. Based on the individuals still living in captivity, hopefully more can be done for these superbly adaptive species, to be reintroduced in the wild, to be once again part of a healthier desert ecosystem!
Some sources for more details, for the ones of you interested in visiting Israel for wildlife monitoring:
ebird.org – maybe the best known birds monitoring website, where anyone can contribue