We have high hopes for the continuation of this critically important wildlife conservation program in 2016. At the start of the new year, it is fitting to look back at our achievements in 2015:
21 griffon vulture eggs from all over Israel (including 8 eggs laid in our own Birds of Prey Aviary) were incubated in our National Center for Raptor Egg Incubation. Of these, 10 hatched successfully and 8 chicks survived and fledged and were sent to Hai Bar Carmel Nature Reserve for acclimatization and release by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Notice the disparity between the number of eggs incubated and the number of birds finally released into the wild – this low breeding success rate, even under optimal conditions in an incubation center, is one of the factors contributing to the decline of this species in the Middle East. When external factors such as poisoning by humans, hunting and nest disturbances affect the local population of vultures, they are compounded by a low rate of successful reproduction.
In 2015 we participated in a regional cooperation effort with nature conservation agencies in Cyprus, Armenia and Spain from which we received a number of griffon vultures to strengthen our local population both genetically and in numbers. A total of 49 individuals were received in Israel and underwent their quarantine period in our facility at the Jerusalem Zoo. Most were then released into the wild and 8 individuals were kept in our Birds of Prey Aviary for breeding purposes.
24 lesser kestrels hatched in our incubation center in 2015. These were hand-reared using a special method to prevent imprinting. All were released into the wild from Ramat Hanadiv in northern Israel.
We encourage you to watch watch the video segment (link below) with English sub-titles to see the efforts being made by the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, in conjunction with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, to save Israel's vultures.
These achievements give us hope for the future and we hope to report more good news to you in due course. Thank you for your continued support of this very important wildlife conservation project.
The Avian Team at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
Electronic sensor control panel, incubation center
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