Life on the earths surface, in this desert, is vibrant, colourful and unique. Minuscule quantities of bacteria can be found in the lake but the flora and fauna is abundant, bountiful and plenteous.

Ibex and Tristram

Rock rabbits (hyrax), Nubian ibex, hyena and foxes are just some of the wildlife that can be seen in this dry, arid corner of the world.  There are species of lizards and reptiles, rodents, birds and of course insects.  In the past, additional animal species such as leopards and vultures also lived here but they are now locally extinct.  The animals in this region are equipped with a variety of adaptation mechanisms which enable them to exist in the regions harsh climatic conditions.  For example most of the terrestial animals - mammals and reptiles - are nocturnal.  

Israel is situated at the geographic crossroads of three continents - Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Dead Sea Valley serves as a central route for bird migration. Soaring birds, including various birds of prey, Ciconia storks, and pelicans frequently use the thermal columns to glide while making use of the thermals created between and along the many craggy cliffs in the region. Therefore, the Dead Sea Valley is a kind of bottleneck. During the migration season in the fall, around 500 million birds of 280 species pass through the region on their way southwards to Africa, and in the spring – returning northwards to Europe. around one billion migrating birds pass through the region annually.

Tristram Starling.JPG

Bats in the belfry are not like the bats on the baobab tree.  Here in the botanical gardens at Kibbutz Ein Gedi these fruit bats can be found flying above your head just willing the blossom of the baobab tree to bloom.  In the summer months an abundance of blossoms open at night on the baobab trees, the bats are able to smell the aroma from a distance and dive in for a feast.  

The Ibex, commonly known as mountain goats, are resident in the Negev desert to such an extent that they almost have no fear of humans and are more like pets.  In the Ein Gedi area they are indeed a sight for sore eyes, a real treat to see them roaming around the kibbutz having sauntered in from the desert terrain in search of water.  They always wander about in herds, the mother and kids herd together with the males herding separately.

Ibex kid.JPG

The Hyrax, also known as Rock rabbits, can be found, mostly, in the rocky areas around the Dead Sea.  These little critter like creatures are cute.  They tend to live in groups with one adult standing guard while the others feed or rest.  The craggy moutains of the Judean desert are an ideal location for them to hide in as they dehydrate quite quickly in the extreme hot climate of the area.  

Hyrax have an amazing communication system (researchers have been studying them for the past 20+ years), with the females call being long and soft whilst the males go loud with short chatter.  This is, apparantly, their way of woeing the females!!!!!

Hyrax 1.JPG

The wildlife of the Judean desert is quite exceptional.  High climatic temperatures and a highly saline lake would lead one to believe that wildlife couldn't possibly survive, but the various natural water sources and the nature of the animals themselves, enables them to endure and, of course, the good people of the Parks and Nature Authority that ensure they will survive for many many years to come.  

Credit for all photos: copyright: Itamar Grinberg.

Bathing birds at Nachal David
Hyrax 2



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