Israeli Wildlife Society Stresses Need for Conservation, Preservation

More than 150 people sat down at the Israel Embassy to eat a dinner of food that might have been served during Biblical days as a way of stressing the need to preserve in Israel the animals, flowers and other wildlife that existed during that period.

The event was sponsored by the Hai-Bar (Wildlife) Society of Israel which maintains three wildlife reserves in the Negev dedicated to preserving animals mentioned in the Bible, and the friends of Hai-Bar, the Holy Land Conservation Fund.

Samuel Lewis, the former United States Ambassador to Israel, who was the guest of honor, said Israel is not as advanced as the U.S. in conservation “but it is getting there.”

ISRAEL IS ‘PIONEER IN CONSERVATION’

Dr. Bertel Brunn, president of Friends of Hai-Bar, said that while Israel was a “beleaguered country” fighting for its survival, it has “become the pioneer in the conservation of nature” in the Middle East.

Lewis noted that he was able to endure the long hours that his Ambassadorial duties required by getting out to see the variety of Israel’s outdoors. He not only became a scuba diver in Eilat but “tramped the length and breadth of the country” with his wife Sally. “It is up to this generation of Israelis and their friends abroad to protect the wildlife for the generations to follow,” he said.

Israeli Ambassador Meir Rosenne expressed the hope that in the years to come there can be more concentration on “developing Hai-Bar than on developing weapons.”

KNESSET LAW AIDS EFFORT

Dan Peri, executive director of the Israel National Reserves Authority to which the Hai-Bar reserves are attached, noted that before 1964 it was only a handful of volunteers, like those in Hai-Bar who sought to protect animals and flowers in Israel. But then the Knesset passed a law setting up the authority.

Peri said that many Biblical animals such as ibex, the orynx, the wild ass, and the fellow deer are now in the Hai-Bar reserves. He noted that the last EI AI plane to leave Iran after the Khomeini revolution carried eight deer whose ancestors roamed Israel in Biblical times.

Peter Andrews, board chairman of Friends of Hci-Bar, said 14 species are being preserved and some animals have been returned to the wilds. He noted that the leopard has returned to the Israeli wilds. Peri expressed the hope that the time will come when Israel will be able to help its neighbors in preserving their wildlife.

FOX PRESENTED TO ZOO

Peri and Rosenne presented to the national zoo an adult male fennec fox, the first of seven animals being sent from the Hai-Bar reserves to the zoo. The other animals, two female fennecs and four dorcas gazelles, will arrive this summer.

Animals today are more “menaced than they were during the Biblical flood,” Dr. Michael Robinson, the zoo’s director, told the Embassy dinner last month. He said there is a need today “for more Noahs.”

The speakers urged not only financial support for Hai-Bar but visits to its reserves. Lewis said he believes all Americans visiting Israel should visit these areas, rather than just the usual sites.

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