Illegal hunting of Israeli wildlife is contributing towards further reductions of both wild birds and mammals; and is even pushing species towards the “red line” of being threatened with near extinction. Illegal hunting, as well as unstoppable real estate development has led to a serious loss of natural wildlife habitats in the country, and the depletion of many wild animal species. Some of these animal species, such as rabbits and hares, partridges, foxes, and other species, that were once common even near developed areas, are now rarely seen. One of the reasons is that foreign Thai workers are trapping them for food.
Noam Lider, who is employed by the Nature and Parks Authority in their wildlife statistics department, told Green Prophet recently that one of the biggest problems to wildlife is being caused by illegal hunting by foreign “guest” agricultural laborers.
“One of the biggest problems involving illegal hunting is caused by the more than 26,000 foreign agricultural workers from countries like Thailand,” he says.
“Many of these people come from remote rural villages and are used to hunting and trapping wild animals for food. This has resulted in so many animals like partridges and hares being killed and eaten by these workers that these animals (chucker partridges and hares) are no longer allowed as game for licensed hunters. This situation has reached the point where hunting for sport will probably be banned in Israel in the near future.”
Although less such labor is being imported into Israel than in previous years the damage has apparently been done; and some areas may not be able to recover.
The damage being done to Israel’s wildlife by illegal hunting cannot be overstressed. This problem is not to be confused with hunting by licensed hunters, however; as those who still hunt for sport generally abide by the laws set for hunting wild game as they know they will not be able continue hunting otherwise.
It’s the hunting by illegal means, including setting of traps and snares, and using home made weapons that are taking a serious wild life toll. “These agricultural workers are brought to Israel from poor rural communities in Thailand, and they are used to hunting wild and even domestic animals to supplement their meager incomes,” says NPA’s Lider.
The problem of wild animal poaching is not limited to Israel, however. Egypt has a serious problem with poaching, including animals like leopards that were once considered as sacred to the ancient Pharaohs.
And in Lebanon, stray dogs are literally shot on sight .
There is some hope for Israel’s wildlife , as the country is a world leader in wildlife protection with 250 nature reserves and 76 national parks. According to NPA’s wildlife ecologist Ehud Hatzofe: “Israel is a leader in wildlife conservation and protection. Our reserves and national parks are helping to preserve a lot of animal species. And many that were made extinct have been re-introduced.”
That unfortunately doesn’t help wild animals who still live on habitats where nature reserves are not locates. These animals are still “fair game” for illegal hunters.
Read more on wildlife at risk in the Middle East:
Israel Animals Killed by Economic Development
Stay the Extinction of Egypt’s Sacred Cats
When Tourism and Nature Collide: Protected Land Under Threat in Egypt