Injured vulture healing in Israel thanks to int’l effort

International cooperation between Israelis, Jordanians and Germans ends in rescue of injured Egyptian Vulture in Jordan.

By
April 23, 2013 03:36
3 minute read.
NOAM WEISS cradles the injured vulture in Jordan

NOAM WEISS cradles the injured vulture in Jordan 370. (photo credit: Courtesy INPA)

 
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International cooperation between Israelis, Jordanians and Germans led to the rescue of an injured Egyptian Vulture in Jordan on Friday night, which is now recovering in Israel, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) announced jointly on Monday.

The rescue operation of the bird – likely injured by an electricity line – successfully occurred with the cooperation of a diverse team from INPA, SPNI, the Jordanian authorities and the German Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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Considered an endangered species in Europe, Asia and Africa, Egyptian Vultures suffer from ever-worsening conditions across the globe due to poisoning, hunting and electrocution incidents, the organizations said.

This vulture’s suffering was eased by Friday night, however, when he was transferred by SPNI official Noam Weiss to the Safari Wildlife Hospital in Ramat Gan – a hospital under the joint jurisdiction of the Safari, the INPA and the Israel Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation.

The vulture in question was born in the spring of 2012 at an INPA breeding center in the Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, where newly born Egyptian Vultures become acclimatized to their environment in the Carmel and then are released into the wild, the INPA said. So far, a project called “Spreading Wings” has allowed the INPA and SPNI to release 19 Egyptian vultures in the Carmel, the organizations explained.

The now-recovering animal was released by INPA worker Yigal Miller from Hai-Bar together with another vulture on March 28, with wingtag number 14 and a VHF transmitter. In recent days, however, he was injured in Jordan east of the Dead Sea, likely after bumping into a power cord, the team members said.

Immediately upon discovering the injured bird on Friday, Jordanian officials alerted INPA avian ecologist, Ohad Hatzofe, and after back-andforth communications, the sides agreed to transfer the bird to Israeli hands for treatment – provided that the Israelis could come pick up the bird. Hatzofe therefore turned to SPNI’s Israeli Ornithological Society, which has had fruitful cooperation with Jordanians for years on a biological pest control project employing barn owls, according to the organizations.

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Because Weiss is a coordinator of this project and also enjoys a special relationship with the local wildlife, SPNI determined that he would be the ideal rescuer from the Israeli side.

“Because the Egyptian Vulture is a rare bird, we needed special authorization from the Kingdom of Jordan,” Weiss said. “In the past these approvals have not been accepted, but this time, thankfully, it occurred immediately.”

The only requirement from the Jordanian side was that a Jordanian citizen be part of the bird’s transfer into Israel, and from the Israeli side, Veterinary Service authorizations had to be issued – which occurred in record time, he explained. Weiss left Rehovot for Eilat at 3 a.m. on Friday morning to cross the border, and then continued three hours from Aqaba to the Dana Nature Reserve, where he met with the Jordanian inspector. Within 15 minutes, he already began the journey home, with the bird in weak condition.

“When we got to the border, we were again asked to show the paperwork and the bird, and on the Israeli side, they did not give up on any security check, but they conducted them as quickly as possible,” Weiss said.

Nonetheless, the team missed the last flight back to Tel Aviv on Friday night, so they drove to the Safari Hospital in Ramat Gan, where Dr.

Shmulik Landau was waiting for them at 10:30 p.m. At the hospital, veterinarians began treating the vulture for a dislocated wing and slightly broken beak. The bird refused to stand on one of his legs and appeared completely emaciated, with a low body temperature and dehydration, the INPA reported.

While the vulture is undergoing continued tests and treatment, the doctors do not yet know whether he will be able to return to the wild or if he will return to living long term at the Hai-Bar Nature Reserve.

“The global Egyptian Vulture population is experiencing a sharp decline,” Hatzofe said. “This is a traveling species, and therefore, only international cooperation can save them from extinction.”

In light of the deteriorating situation of the vultures, SPNI’s Ornithological Society will be conducting a study this summer about their nesting habits and what can be done to improve their situation, the organizations added.

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