The German airline Lufthansa, whose logo is a crane, "landed" in the Hula Valley on Monday, bringing officials and leading German researchers to observe thousands of wintering cranes, as part of its plan to develop a joint venture to protect cranes in Germany, Israel and Ethiopia.
Cranes migrate through the Hula Valley twice a year. During the last five days, leading Lufthansa officials and a group of German ornithologists met with their Israeli counterparts in the Agmon-Hula Valley to learn about national birding activities. The group was hosted by the Ornithological Centers of the Society for the Protection of Nature Israel (SPNI), led by Dr. Yossi Leshem and Dan Alon.
Lufthansa, which donates to crane projects worldwide, has already invested 100,000 euros in Israel for satellite transmitters and research conducted by the SPNI in the last decade.
During this visit, the German delegation was very impressed with the project's achievements and decided to donate additional funds for a new project aimed at resolving conflicts between cranes and farmers in Ethiopia using the Israeli crane project as a model. The project in Ethiopia will be assisted and guided by Israelis and Germans, who will work with the Ethiopians during the project's establishment and initial years.
Another emphasis on the German team's agenda was the preservation of the Great Rift Valley, stretching from Turkey to Mozambique, which is one of the most important bird migratory routes in the world. The German group agreed to help the Israeli birding centers to declare this region a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.
Leshem and Alon said Lufthansa's investment was a major contribution to birding, research and nature conservation in Israel.
What distinguishes the international cooperation of this crane project is that it connects the many aspects of research and nature conservation, significantly decreases the conflict between cranes and agriculture, and provides an educational platform for studying birds in the school system using the Internet and observing cranes in the field and attracts 250,000 tourists to the Agmon. This unique interdisciplinary concept will connect academic researchers, schoolchildren and farmers from Germany, Israel and Ethiopia.
The final session of the German delegation took place Monday at the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration at Latrun. The panel included Prof. Amnon Ginaty, a leading researcher at the European Space Agency, who spoke about the forefront of European space research using satellite transmitters and migrating birds.