Israel Nature and Parks Authority

West Jerusalem, Israel

Israel Nature and Parks Authority

West Jerusalem, Israel
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News Article | September 20, 2017

Israeli authorities are warning families with young children to take extra care after a series of wolf attacks on campers in the Judean desert. Ten incidents involving wolf bites were reported over the summer around the historic site of Masada and the popular spring at Ein Gedi. A number of the incidents involved young children, leading to fears that an Arabian wolf or wolves may be exhibiting predatory behaviour. The incidents at campsites and attractions began in May, when a wolf entered the tent of a family holidaying near Masada. It later returned to bite one of the family’s young children a few steps from her tent. The attacks continued over the summer with the two most recent incidents occurring last weekend, when three children were bitten in two separate attacks near Ein Gedi. Local rangers have been accused of not doing enough to find and trap the animal, or animals, involved – a charge denied by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Shilhav Ben-David, whose daughter was bitten in the first reported incident, said the wolf had entered the family’s tent before being chased off, only to return and attack her child a few hours later. She told Haaretz she only became aware the wolf had returned when she saw it on top of her child. “I saw him move his nose over her,” she said. “I ran and grabbed her and saw blood and holes from fangs in her lower back. It wasn’t that he tried to attack her, he really tried to grab her and take her away.” Haim Berger, who did his doctoral research on wolf behaviour and guides visitors to see wild animals in the desert, told the Guardian his own family had also encountered a wolf at a campsite near Masada without being aware there had been attacks. “I had no idea there had been a problem because it had not been publicised,” Berger said. “In the middle of the night one of my girls woke me and said there is a wolf here. I didn’t know about recent attacks even though the park ranger had come round the the day before. Now they are warning people.” Before this summer, the last wolf attack reported occurred in 2008, Berger said. He believes that the animals have become increasingly habituated to humans attracted by litter bins and other food around the campsites. Unlike in countries such as the United States and Canada, there is little awareness among campers in Israel of how to holiday safely around wild animals. “I’ve been warning about the risk of this for almost 15 years – the risk of wolves getting gradually more used to humans and trying to convince people that we need to keep a greater distance,” said Berger. Berger said no recent research had been conducted into the wolves in the Judean desert. But he believes the spate of attacks probably involves a single individual or individuals from a pack of about 20 wolves, which would usually hunt over a far wider area. The number of younger children involved in the attacks has led Berger to believe the wolves were exhibiting predatory behaviour. “We need to educate people in behaviour that avoids attracting animals to campsites and also work to discourage wolves from coming near people,” he said. “It is a change in behaviour that happened because of people,” said Gilad Gabay, southern region director of the Israel nature and parks authority, discussing the attacks. “People need to understand that they are in the heart of nature and that every [time a wolf feeds on litter] that has significance. We won’t rest until we stop this, but we need the cooperation of the public.”

Aziz-Boaron O.,The Hebrew University | Brettschneider S.,The Hebrew University | King R.,Israel Nature and Parks Authority | Gelman B.,Kimron Veterinary Institute | Klement E.,The Hebrew University
Transboundary and Emerging Diseases | Year: 2015

Bovine ephemeral fever (BEF) is an economically important vector-borne viral disease of cattle and buffalo. It has been reported from most of the world's tropical and subtropical regions. In the last few decades, outbreaks of BEF have occurred in Israel almost every other year. Several serological studies have demonstrated a wide range of wild animal species that are positive for BEF virus (BEFV) antibodies. However, the question of whether wild animals and domesticated species other than cattle also play an important role in the maintenance and transmission of BEFV in Israel remains. Here, we examined the prevalence of anti-BEFV antibodies in 942 samples collected from various wild, semi-captive and domesticated animal species during the years 2000-2009 using the serum neutralization (SN) method. SN test revealed the presence of BEFV-neutralizing antibodies in nine samples (0.96%), from three species: Bubalus bubalis (4/29, 13.79%), Gazella g. gazella (3/68, 4.44%) and Dama d. mesopotamica (2/296, 0.68%). All positive samples were collected in areas of earlier outbreaks. The low prevalence of positive animals and the solid correlation with prior outbreaks indicate that the tested species probably do not serve as virus reservoirs and may play only a minor role in the maintenance of BEFV in the Middle East. © 2013 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

Talmi-Frank D.,Hebrew University | Kedem-Vaanunu N.,Hebrew University | King R.,Israel Nature and Parks Authority | Bar-Gal G.K.,Hebrew University | And 3 more authors.
Emerging Infectious Diseases | Year: 2010

During a survey of wild canids, internal transcribed spacer 1 real-time PCR and high-resolution melt analysis identified Leishmania tropica in samples from jackals and foxes. Infection was most prevalent in ear and spleen samples. Jackals and foxes may play a role in the spread of zoonotic L. tropica.

News Article | February 15, 2017

'One of the most exciting archaeological discoveries -- and the most important in the last 60 years -- in the caves of Qumran' Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12. The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology, with the collaboration of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia, USA. The excavators are the first in over 60 years to discover a new scroll cave and to properly excavate it. The excavation was supported by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and is a part of the new "Operation Scroll" launched at the IAA by its Director-General, Mr. Israel Hasson, to undertake systematic surveys and to excavate the caves in the Judean Desert. Excavation of the cave revealed that at one time it contained Dead Sea scrolls. Numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and deep inside a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted. Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls. With the discovery of this cave, scholars have now suggested that it would be numbered as Cave 12. Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found). "This exciting excavation is the closest we've come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave," said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation. "Finding this additional scroll cave means we can no longer be certain that the original locations (Caves 1 through 11) assigned to the Dead Sea scrolls that reached the market via the Bedouins are accurate." Dr. Gutfeld added: "Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we 'only' found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more." The finds from the excavation include not only the storage jars, which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll. The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods. This first excavation to take place in the northern part of the Judean Desert as part of "Operation Scroll" will open the door to further understanding the function of the caves with respect to the scrolls, with the potential of finding new scroll material. The material, when published, will provide important new evidence for scholars of the archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea caves. "The important discovery of another scroll cave attests to the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in the Judean Desert and finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered," said Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority. "We are in a race against time as antiquities thieves steal heritage assets worldwide for financial gain. The State of Israel needs to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to launch a historic operation, together with the public, to carry out a systematic excavation of all the caves of the Judean Desert."

On her hands and knees, 23-year-old Liberty University graduate student Christy Connell slowly crawled for hours through a narrow cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in Israel, over a two-week span in January. “In the smallest parts of the cave it was so narrow I had to crawl on my stomach,” Connell said. “It was pitch black. I couldn’t see anything in front of me. I was crawling over pieces of animal bones and gravel.” Connell, who is pursuing her Master of Arts in History, was part of a team of six Liberty faculty members and students, led by distinguished research professor Dr. Randall Price, who assisted in discovering evidence that shows Dead Sea scrolls were stored there. While no physical scrolls were found, fragments of storage jars, scroll wrappings, string, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll were all found inside of the cave. This marks the first discovery related to the Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. The finding of pottery and numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian (a semi-precious stone) also revealed that the cave, known as Cave 12, was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods, according to a news releasefrom Hebrew University. Connell said after working for Price at Liberty, she has always kept an ear to the ground about potential archeological digs, especially in Israel. When she learned about the December trip, Connell said she made sure to ask Price if she could go. “When I was there, we had found things that had indicated there were scrolls in the cave. It’s just really amazing to be a part of history, especially something that I’ve studied for so many years.” School of Communications & Creative Arts associate professor Eva Palmer was also on the trip. Palmer, who teaches studio art, said she had been to Israel before, but had dreamed of exploring the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. "I was facinated with the caves," Palmer said. "We would always drive by them on the highway, and I wanted the chance to see them up close." To be at the same site of this discovery was a special experience, she said. "We were so excited to hear that they had found shards of the storage pots," she said. "This is actual evidence of the Bible and what we believe." The group left on Dec. 28 for the 15-day trip, but Price said it wasn’t until they returned to the United States that they learned the true significance of their findings. “I got a text that the team had found something which turned out to be a piece of leather that held the scrolls together,” Price said. “They told me I needed to get back out there.” He then returned to Israel in January, during the first week of the spring semester, along with junior Biblical Studies major Casey Olson, who documented the finds through her camera lens. Olson was the only team member from the first trip to return to the site with Price. The two were there for an additional week and a half until the dig concluded on Jan. 30. The dig was the first discovery by the Operation Scroll team, a joint effort by Hebrew University, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, to protect historical artifacts from thieves. Cave 12 was first discovered in 2006 by Price, who worked for several years to secure permission to extract the cave, along with Dr. Oren Gutfeld and his assistant Ahiad Ovadi, both of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology. While experts have known about the cave for several years, this dig was the first detailed look at the contents inside. It is one of 12 caves that have been found to have housed scrolls at one time. “I knew the cave had potential,” said Price, who has been busy this week doing interviews with National Geographic, CBS News, and other major media outlets. “This is only the beginning of our search for more scrolls. Undoubtedly, they are out there, and we know of some 300 caves in the area. Our team is planning to return to excavate other caves in the near future.” Price said he was excited to be able to take faculty and students along on the dig to not only learn about field work, but to be part of the extraction of artifacts. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Price said. “Now that we were successful, it means there are new opportunities for us to get in there and continue to study these caves. The goal is to find scrolls.” Price is also curator of the Liberty Biblical Musem, located at the terrace level of the Jerry Falwell Library. The museum has thousands of artifacts from the Holy Land dating from 4,000 B.C. to the 6th Century A.D. Special exhibits include a replica of the Dead Sea s5crolls. For more information, including hours of operation, call (434) 592-3249. About Liberty University Liberty University, founded in 1971, is the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world. Located near the Blue Ridge Mountains on more than 7,000 acres in Lynchburg, Va., Liberty offers more than 500 unique programs of study from the certificate to the doctoral level. More than 250 programs are offered online. Liberty’s mission is to train Champions for Christ with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for impacting tomorrow’s world.

News Article | October 26, 2016

Archaeologists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany started excavations in September 2016 at Khirbat al-Minya, an early-Islamic caliphate palace on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Led by PD Dr. Hans-Peter Kuhnen of the Department of Ancient Studies at JGU, the team is hoping to find out how the site looked before the palace was built and whether the building was used for different purposes after the catastrophic earthquake of 749 AD. The palace, which was still under construction at the time, suffered major damage during the quake. Findings from the new excavations show that the building lost its palatial function as a result of the earthquake and was subsequently only used by craftsmen, traders, and sugar cane farmers. Among the small artefacts found is a tiny glass weight just 12 millimeters in diameter that has an Arabic inscription on it. The words solicit "Glory to Allah," indicating that the Muslim traders operating here in the 9th or 10th century were dealing with particularly valuable goods. Another significant discovery is that of facilities for processing sugar cane, the cultivation of which initially triggered an economic boom in the Middle Ages in the Holy Land but subsequently led to desertification across large swathes of land in the region. For the first time, the Mainz archaeologists were able to uncover layer-by-layer a boiling system used for molasses production, thus gaining new insights into how sugar cane was refined in this period. During in-depth excavation of the ground beneath the foundations of the caliphate palace, project team members discovered evidence of what could well have been dramatic changes to the landscape before the building was constructed. At least twice in the post-Roman period extreme weather conditions had caused disastrous boulder slides that covered what would later be the building site and thus buried the foundation walls of an older, pre-Islamic settlement. With the resumption of digging here, Mainz University is continuing a research project that German archaeologists had initiated in the years 1932 to 1939 in order to clarify the history of both the palace structure and the overall settlement built under Caliph Walid I (705-715 AD) and Walid II (743/4 AD). When World War II began in 1939, however, excavations were interrupted, which is why the research work here still needs to be completed. The project is being supported by the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Tel Aviv and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. In addition to the excavations, the Mainz archaeologists are also running a conservation project that has been financed since 2015 through the Cultural Preservation Program of the German Federal Foreign Office. The objective is to prevent the further progressive deterioration of the palace ruins that has been occurring since their exposure in 1939. Therefore, Mainz University has commissioned a German-Israeli restoration team to carry out reinforcement work in November 2016 to shore up some of the walls that are at great risk of collapsing. In preparation for the job, the Laboratory for Building Research at the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences in Wiesbaden has begun a new and precise survey of the at-risk walls in order to get a clear idea of their construction technique as well as to ensure optimal planning for the type and scope of the upcoming restoration work. "By combining the use of exploratory trenches, the architectural survey, and conservation measures we are setting standards in the research, preservation, and investigation of this important early-Islamic site," said project manager PD Dr. Hans-Peter Kuhnen of the Department of Ancient Studies at JGU, outlining the relevance of the undertaking. "The new excavations and the accompanying architectural survey will provide us for the first time with detailed insights into what happened on the shores of the Sea of Galilee before the palace was built and after it was destroyed by the earthquake of 749 AD. Our results will then contribute to the future development of the site."

Gasser G.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Pankratov I.,Israel Water Authority | Elhanany S.,Israel Water Authority | Glazman H.,Israel Nature and Parks Authority | Lev O.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Water Resources Research | Year: 2014

A methodology used to estimate the percentage of wastewater effluent in an otherwise pristine water site is proposed on the basis of the weighted mean of the level of a consortium of indicator pollutants. This method considers the levels of uncertainty in the evaluation of each of the indicators in the site, potential effluent sources, and uncontaminated surroundings. A detailed demonstrative study was conducted on a site that is potentially subject to wastewater leakage. The research concentrated on several perched springs that are influenced to an unknown extent by agricultural communities. A comparison was made to a heavily contaminated site receiving wastewater effluent and surface water runoff. We investigated six springs in two nearby ridges where fecal contamination was detected in the past; the major sources of pollution in the area have since been diverted to a wastewater treatment system. We used chloride, acesulfame, and carbamazepine as domestic pollution tracers. Good correlation (R2 > 0.86) was observed between the mixing ratio predictions based on the two organic tracers (the slope of the linear regression was 1.05), whereas the chloride predictions differed considerably. This methodology is potentially useful, particularly for cases in which detailed hydrological modeling is unavailable but in which quantification of wastewater penetration is required. We demonstrate that the use of more than one tracer for estimation of the mixing ratio reduces the combined uncertainty level associated with the estimate and can also help to disqualify biased tracers. Key Points A protocol for quantification of wastewater leakage to water sources Uncertainty-based weighted average of several domestic wastewater tracers Comparison of acesulfame, carbamazepine, and Cl- wastewater tracers © 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Atad I.,Tel Aviv University | Zvuloni A.,Israel Nature and Parks Authority | Loya Y.,Tel Aviv University | Rosenberg E.,Tel Aviv University
Coral Reefs | Year: 2012

Coral disease is a major factor in the global decline of coral reefs. At present, there are no known procedures for preventing or treating infectious diseases of corals. Immunization is not possible because corals have a restricted adaptive immune system and antibiotics are neither ecologically safe nor practical in an open system. Thus, we tested phage therapy as an alternative therapeutic method for treating diseased corals. Phage BA3, specific to the coral pathogen Thalassomonas loyana, inhibited the progression of the white plague-like disease and transmission to healthy corals in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. Only one out of 19 (5 %) of the healthy corals became infected when placed near phage-treated diseased corals, whereas 11 out of 18 (61 %) healthy corals were infected in the no-phage control. This is the first successful treatment for a coral disease in the sea. We posit that phage therapy of certain coral diseases is achievable in situ. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

Yom-Tov Y.,Tel Aviv University | Hatzofe O.,Israel Nature and Parks Authority | Geffen E.,Tel Aviv University
Biological Conservation | Year: 2012

During the course of the 20th century many changes took place in the area encompassing Israel and the Palestinian Authority (hereafter Israel; ca. 28,000km 2): the human population grew from ca. 650,000 inhabitants during 1900-1903 (Rupin, 1920) to ca. 10 million in 2008, i.e. a 16-fold increase. This population increase was accompanied by an increase in land use for human needs - agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, construction of buildings and roads, etc., and a dramatic rise in the standard of living.Here we compare the status (distribution and abundance) of the 227 bird species that are breeding or have bred in Israel from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. For each species we documented the environmental factors presumed to have affected it, and examined the effects of taxonomic order, body mass, diet, world and local distribution and nest location on the status of the avifauna. We found that 73.6% of the bird species breeding in Israel had undergone a change in their status during the studied period. While several of the examined factors were significantly related to the observed changes, some of them were also interrelated to some degree, making it difficult to single out the factor responsible for a particular change. The main reasons for the changes were nonetheless assessed as habitat change, introduction of invasive species and poisoning. Habitat change had many forms, most of which are related to agriculture, including irrigation, aquaculture and construction of water reservoirs; but also included afforestation, preservation of the natural forest, urbanization, gardening and the introduction of exotic plants. Habitat change was responsible for a population decline in 64 species and population increase in 62 species. Thirteen species, mostly Falconiformes, were impacted by poisoning. Sixteen invasive species, all of tropical origin, were introduced, of which seven were Psittaciformes. Although changes occurred throughout the country, the birds inhabiting the Mediterranean region were more affected than those inhabiting the desert region, reflecting the denser human population in the former region. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Zvuloni A.,Israel Nature and Parks Authority | Belmaker J.,Tel Aviv University
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2016

The point-intercept sampling method (PIM) is an efficient, applicable, and common technique for collecting ecological data. With the rise of digital data, its use is considerably increasing for the analysis of images. However, to date the PIM has been solely used to estimate parameters related to coverage. The limitations of the PIM originate from being a plotless technique (i.e. the sampling unit does not define an area), and because it is prone to substantial sizerelated biases. Based on geometrical considerations, we introduce a simple approach, provided as user-friendly Excel spreadsheets and R functions, to overcome these limitations, providing the sizes of individuals sampled at the sampling points are also recorded. We demonstrate that our approach enables the user to derive unbiased estimations of important ecological measures that could not previously be estimated by the PIM (e.g. population density, size-frequency distribution, average size, and species diversity), and that the improved PIM is even more efficient than conventional plot-based techniques (e.g. the quadrat method). © The authors 2016.

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