Four ibexes found dead in Israel's South in mysterious circumstances

There is as of yet no explanation for their deaths, though poisoning may seem likely. Investigations and autopsies are ongoing.

  A dead ibex is seen in Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel, on June 12, 2022. (photo credit: Yedidya Shmuel/Nature and Parks Authority)
A dead ibex is seen in Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel, on June 12, 2022.
(photo credit: Yedidya Shmuel/Nature and Parks Authority)

Four ibexes in Mitzpe Ramon in Israel's South died in mysterious circumstances that are being investigated, the Nature and Parks Authority announced early Sunday morning.

Three of them were found dead with a fourth in critical condition. It was taken to a hospital where it soon died.

What happened?

While at first glance it might seem like poisoning, Nature and Parks Authority inspector Yedidya Shmuel said that there was no evidence found nearby of a possible source of poisoning. The only thing of note found at the scene was cat food.

However, authority veterinarian Roni King said that the cause of death is likely poisoning, but from an unknown source.

An Ibex stands on a cliff-edge above the Ramon Crater in southern Israel's Negev desert March 5, 2012. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)An Ibex stands on a cliff-edge above the Ramon Crater in southern Israel's Negev desert March 5, 2012. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

"The goal in locating the source of the poison in the field is to stop the exposure to it and prevent the continued death of nearby wildlife," King said in a statement.

"The goal in locating the source of the poison in the field is to stop the exposure to it and prevent the continued death of nearby wildlife."

Veterinarian Roni King

Investigations of the area will continue later today. 

The four ibexes were taken to an autopsy laboratory at the Beit Dagan Veterinary Institute to test for toxins and diseases.

"If this is indeed a deliberate harm brought on protected wildlife, the perpetrators must be found and brought to justice," said Mediad Goren, of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

"This is another case indicative of the growing friction between humans and wildlife, mainly due to construction, development and expansion into nature and sensitive habitats in Israel."

Goren noted that while wildlife should be in the wild, "sometimes they find themselves in different areas, and there are risks to this as we see here."

The history of ibexes

Ibexes, specifically Nubian ibexes, are desert-dwelling relatives of goats that live in the Middle East and North Africa and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. 

They have a long history in the area and their Hebrew name, Yael, may be derived from the biblical heroine of the same name. 

The ibex population in Israel was once much greater and was described in the Bible, but their numbers were severely cut down by hunters during World War I. 

This is a developing story.