Israelis and Jordanians carried out a special late-night mission over the weekend: returning an injured bird to Israel. The bird, an endangered species of vulture, had been found in Jordan.
The rescue operation involved officials on both the Israeli and Jordanian side of the border as well as a German organization and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), which was responsible for transporting the injured animal to the animal hospital at the Ramat Gan Safari.
The vulture population in Europe, Asia and Africa has fallen dramatically in recent years due to poisoning, hunting and electrocution. The injured bird was born in Israel in spring 2012, in a breeding area run by the Nature and Parks Authority in the Carmel region in an attempt to boost the vulture population.
The birds born in the area are raised in nature and released into the wild. So far, 19 vultures have been born and released in an ongoing project.
In mid-April of this year one of the birds, which had been marked with the number 14, was found east of the Dead Sea, in Jordan. It had apparently hit a power wire and was hurt.
Jordanian authorities informed Israel immediately, and agreed to transfer the bird to Israeli care if Israeli representatives would come to pick it up. Noam Weiss of SPNI agreed to make the trip.
“Because the vulture is a rare bird, we needed special permission from the Jordanian monarchy,” Weiss said. “In the past it wasn’t possible to get authorizations, but this time, fortunately, it happened immediately.”
Weiss entered Jordan at 3 a.m. and drove three miles to pick up the injured animal. After reentering Israel he immediately drove to the safari, picking up veterinarian Dr. Shmulik Landau on the way. They arrived at the animal hospital at 10:30 p.m. and Dr. Landau began treating the vulture, which was found to have a dislocated wing and a broken beak. In addition, the bird was suffering from hunger, dehydration and hypothermia.
Experts are hoping the vulture will heal sufficiently to allow its re-release into nature. If not, it will remain at the breeding center in Chai-Bar Carmel.