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Report Wildlife Has Been Harmed in South Sinai Since Israel Returned the Area to Egypt

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Avraham Yoffi, head of the Nature Reserves Authority, says that great harm has been done to wildlife in Sinai since the southern part was handed back to Egypt nearly two years ago.

In a weekend radio interview he said that the gazelles had been decimated by Bedouin hunters, due to lack of government supervision, and the wonderful coral reefs at Ras Muhammed had been ruined by Egyptian fishermen using dynamite to capture fish.

Yoffi said that for the 14 years of Israeli occupation of the region Israel had sought to maintain strictly Egyptian law on these matters, placing personnel at the disposal of the Authority. But the Egyptians had failed to do so. Yoffi said he had discussed this with the Egyptians and other Arab officials even before the peace treaty, at international forums.

“For 14 years we retained a lot of people who were busy in saving and protecting the coral and fish under water and in great measure we succeeded,” Yoffi said. But the Egyptians did nothing to follow through on this.

“We had a big fight with the people who are collecting marine turtle eggs — the turtles who have their nests on the shore … we enforced Egyptian law about the quail — in September the quail come from the north and are trapped on the beach in nets,” he said.

“In the last 14 years the gazelles have travelled in great numbers and the ibex moved on the mountains, as well as lots of other beasts and birds who got along well, including foxes and hyenas.”

Yoffi said much research material on nature preservation in Sinai had been sent to Egypt, but the Cairo authorities had done nothing to halt the vandalism in the areas they had reoccupied.

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