(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you had a baby water buffalo, what would you call it? That is the question preoccupying staff at Lake Hula Park, where the first water buffalo calf was born this week.
Lake Hula is famous mainly as one of the world's major bird-watching sites. However, according to Park Director Effie Naim, work at the site also includes restoring the fauna, flora and landscape of the Hula Valley to what they were before the lake was drained.
This includes repopulating the area with the water buffalos that many years ago were part of the local scenery. The present herd consists of ten cows, two bulls - and now a calf as well. Mazel Tov!
530 Million Birds A Year Cannot Be Wrong!
Lake Hula offers the beauties of nature, a variety of tours for the whole family, trails for bicycles that can be rented on-site, hundreds of millions of various migrating birds and a fascinating visit in "The Hidden Wagon" - surrounded by swooping, flying birds. An outing to Lake Hulah is an exciting - indeed unforgettable - experience for all.
During migrating season starting around Suckot, the site attracted thousands of visitors who thronged the park enjoying different outdoor activities, some focusing on current Israeli post-war concerns: fire prevention, forest rehabilitation and restoration.
Thanks to development and restoration work carried out in recent years by KKL-JNF, with the assistance of friends worldwide, the Hula is now considered amongst the primary locations in the globe for birdwatching. Lake Hula is in the Syrian-African Rift, north of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and nestles between the Golan Heights, the Naphtali Mountain Ridge and the Lebanon Valley, about ten kilometers from Kiryat Shmonah. Because entrance to the site is regulated, its ecology is preserved: the number of visitors is limited and in addition, visitors are directed to areas of the park where they cannot injure or endanger the animal life.
Effi Na'im - KKL-JNF Forest Ranger in the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights: "In rehabilitating the Hula Valley, KKL-JNF set four goals: (1) To preserve the quality of water in Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) by preventing the soil in the Hula from being eroded and swept away downstream. (2) To bring the farmers who had given up on this area, back to work their fields, by upgrading their farming and providing incentives. (3) To create the impetus for local residents to engage in tourism. (4) To accelerate economic activity by combining ecology, agriculture and tourism.
"The Syrian-African Rift is the main route taken by birds when they migrate between North Europe and Africa and 530 million of them fly this route every year. But the birds inflicted severe damage on the agriculture in the Hula Valley when local farming was restored; because new species of crops were introduced that are a source of food for the birds, such as peanuts and sunflowers. The Hula Valley became a favorite stopping place for cranes flying from Finland to Africa, because of all that lovely food! Cranes are beautiful, intelligent and particularly sociable but they were seriously damaging the crops and becoming a pest - in the opinion of local farmers. Every year, about 70,000 cranes arrive. With KKL-JNF's assistance, the local farmers organized to study the cranes' habits, in order to deal with them without hurting them or without harming the development of agriculture in the Galilee. Now, we have alternative areas that the cranes use between October and April and they return to nest there every year."
Kobi Samarno - Director of the Lake Hula Site: "The site has made a fantastic contribution to the area. The new agriculture benefits the environment, the economy and the income of Galilee residents. Simultaneously, a new tourist attraction has been created that is unlike anything else in the world. KKL-JNF has managed to connect different spheres and this unique project contributes to different aspects of life in Israel. Public organizations have made commitments to improve conditions for the residents of the Galilee. We have organized buses for visitors to shuttle easily between different activity areas, from the forest to the lake, for bird- watching, to the picnic corners, the bridge and visitors' center. On the bus, they are given explanations and background information about the site and what KKL-JNF does in its various activities."
Yaakov Handler from Acre, a new immigrant from Chernovitz, Ukraine: "I love nature, especially for fishing. I've been here many times and enjoy it so much that I invite friends to come too. It is amazing how KKL-JNF has turned a place that was badly neglected into such a special attraction, with great activities for the whole family. I intend to return often. There's always something new and interesting to do."
A group of Moshav Movement youngsters from kibbutzim and moshavim in the Galilee and Golan Heights: "We came here to plant trees and to help KKL-JNF's efforts to upgrade the soil in the Hulah Valley. In the morning we planted trees and it was hard work! Now we're touring around Lake Hula and enjoying this wonderful spot. We are proud that we have had the opportunity of being part of this work."