We’re fond of saying that nature knows no borders but we could never have illustrated the point as well as a recent story from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).
The Barn Owls pictured above have recently parented seven little owlets in a nesting box situated on Kibbutz Ma’oz Hai’im just a skip from the border with Jordan, but here’s the rub: the male on the right is Israeli and the female on the left is Jordanian!
Natural pest control
In 2002, with support from the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, the first regional seminar took place at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, a leading center of organic agriculture, to discuss the merits of breeding Barn Owls and Kestrels as part of a natural pest control program.
Since then the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, SPNI and Tel Aviv University have supported the national program in conjunction with Israel Ornithological Center and the ICSBM (Int’l Center for the Study of Bird Migration), which has enjoyed tremendous success according to Dr. Yossi Leshem, Director of ICSBM.
In 2010, the European Union came on board via the Peres Center for Peace in order to extend the program’s geographical reach. Today there are roughly 2,700 nesting boxes scattered throughout Israel, which has mitigated the use of harmful pesticides.
The Palestinian Authority has established approximately 200 nesting boxes while the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture has worked with UNRWA to place an additional 100 or so nesting boxes, according to internal literature forwarded to Green Prophet by Dr. Leshem.
Jordan has also participated in this groundbreaking trans-boundary conservation program by placing a similar number of nesting boxes throughout the kingdom, facilitating the above love affair.
Dr. Leshem admitted in an interview with Moment magazine that it was difficult at first to get the Palestinian farmers on board since they believe that owls are a bad omen. Jordanians share this superstition, as evidenced by Arwa’s recent story in which two men kill an owl and boast about their “achievement.”
Photos: Moty Charter, SPNI
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