Israeli environmentalists and conservationists have brought species back from the brink of extinction. The Tower’s photographer took his camera to facilities where indigenous animals can pounce and fly with freedom.
Few are aware of the fact that Israel is one of the most topographically diverse countries in the world. It has almost every kind of ecosystem – forest, desert, mountains, and wetlands. The task of protecting these environments and the flora and fauna that live in them falls to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
But Israel is also a small and densely populated country, and the demand for land and resources inevitably harms its wildlife. To protect these animals, the Nature and Parks Authority operates several wildlife refuges where animals can live without the danger of pollution, habitat loss, and other man-made threats.
Tower photographer Aviram Valdman documented three of these refuges in the rocky desert of the southern Arava, the forested hills of the northern Carmel, and the urban safari park in the central city of Ramat Gan, where an animal hospital rescues injured and endangered creatures.
In these refuges he found an astonishing diversity of wildlife – ostriches, owls, deer, foxes, hedgehogs, and others. All of these creatures have a story of their own to tell, but perhaps the most extraordinary was that of the Persian fallow deer, which was extinct in Israel for 150 years until one was brought from Iran on the last plane to leave for Israel after the 1979 revolution.
This unique refugee, like so many others both human and animal, has found a home in Israel, where it can not only survive, but thrive in a place that welcomed him back with open arms.
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Banner Photo: Aviram Valdman / The Tower