Vulture (file).
Vulture (file).Flash 90

Nearly half of the vulture population in the Golan Heights have died of apparent poisoning, Israel's Nature and Parks Authority Friday, in a new blow to an already decimated breed.

Eight out of around 20 griffon vultures left in the area were found dead on Friday, the organization's director Shaul Goldstein told AFP, in what he described as "a mortal blow to the birds of prey population".

The Israeli parks authority said the deaths constituted "a serious matter", and vowed to find "those responsible for this poisoning and bring them to justice".

A fox and two jackals were also found dead and two other vultures sick were taken to a wildlife clinic for treatment.

Goldstein declined to say if the poisoning was deliberate.

The vulture population on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights has declined significantly over the past two decades, with their number dropping from 130 in 1998 to around 20 before the latest deaths.

In 2016, UN peacekeepers helped return a vulture which had been captured across the border in Lebanon on suspicion of spying for the Jewish state.