Some 35,600 migrating cranes have been counted in Israel's Agamon Hula Park during this year's migration season, as part of the park's "Crane Project."
The goal of the project is to protect local agriculture from cranes that land in Israel for the winter, without doing any harm to the birds. Wildlife experts identified a tricky task: How to allow the cranes to land in Israel so they can rest and recuperate, without encouraging them to stay permanently.
The project achieves its goal by limiting their food sources. After the peanuts and corn that the birds eat is rationed, the cranes continue on to Ethiopia and Sudan.
With special feeding stations set up to accommodate the cranes, the process begins at the end of the summer harvest and stretches into the winter months.
The project costs some 2,500,000 NIS for Agamon Hula Park to maintain. The park is home to nearly 400 bird species including ospreys, falcons, pelicans, herons and mallards, and sits in one of the world's most significant bird migration routes. Over 500 million migrating birds visit the park a year.
Situated in the heart of the Hula Valley, the park is located east of the Golan Heights in the center of the Afro-Syrian Rift. In 1951, KKL-JNF drained the swamps of the Hula Valley because they obstructed farming and served as a breeding ground for malaria. In the 1990s, the valley started to flood because of heavy rains. The reflooded wetlands became known as Agamon Hula Park, and is now considered one of the wildlife wonders of Israel.