Saving Precious Lives at the Agamon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Sunday, October 10, 2021 4:47 PM

The Agamon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hula Lake Park is the only wildlife clinic in northern Israel, and the country's only wildlife rehabilitation center.
 

Setting an eagle’s broken wing, helping a black-wing kite relearn hunting skills, operating on a stone marten, feeding an orphaned owlet: Just another day at KKL-JNF’s Agamon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
 
Israel’s Hula Valley lies on a major bird migration flyway; hundreds of millions of birds come through it twice a year on their way from Europe and Asia to Africa, and back. In Hula Lake Park, a prime birdwatching site that is also home to various terrestrial wildlife species, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) rescues and rehabilitates birds and mammals through the Agamon Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (AWRC).
 
AWRC, established in cooperation with Tel Hai Academic College, fulfills a critical role in preserving regional wildlife and the natural ecosystem. It provides first-response, lifesaving treatment, care and rehabilitation to over 350 birds, mammals and reptiles a year.  
 
AWRC facilities include a clinic, which was built with the support of JNF USA, three acclimatization compounds, and a nursery for baby birds. The nursery operates during the breeding season, which lasts from March to July, and is designed to serve young animals that have fallen from the nest or have been orphaned, and need close feeding and care until they become independent.
 
Asides from being the only wildlife clinic in northern Israel, ARWC is also the only center in the entire country with facilities dedicated exclusively to helping wildlife reacclimatize to living back in the wild.
 
Unique and innovative rehabilitation methods, based on research from around the world, are being implemented for the first time in Israel, right here.  The ARWC compound incorporates three protected acclimatization enclosures - two for birds of prey and one for songbirds - that allow the birds to practice flying and hunting skills in a monitored environment until they recover and are returned to nature.
 
Our dedicated specialists and volunteers work around the clock – setting the broken wing of an eagle, feeding a baby owl, or operating on a stone marten, to mention just a few examples – all carried out with with devotion, love and compassion.
 
Dr. Rona Nadler-Valency, veterinarian and animal science instructor at Tel-Hai Academic College, is AWRC’s director.
 
"One of the most interesting cases at the acclimation center”, says Nadler-Valency, “was a young black-winged kite. After receiving initial treatment, we tried, without success, to locate the bird's nest. After two weeks at the acclimation center, where the bird was fed daily, it was transferred to the large acclimation cage for training in flight and hunting. At first, the young bird seemed unable to hunt on its own, but after another raptor was introduced into the cage the black-winged kite began hunting, apparently by learning from the behavior of his cage mate, and after one month the bird was freed."
 
The aforementioned Black-winged kite was run over in Moshav Eliad in the Golan Heights and was brought to AWRC in March 2021. She arrived emaciated and suffering from a fracture in her right shoulder. After initial first aid, the kite was transferred for further treatment at the Safari Wildlife Hospital in Ramat Gan, before returning for rehabilitation and acclimatization at AWRC.   
The Black-winged kite used to be a very rare species in Israel. Over a decade ago the species began nesting among the reeds at Hula Lake Park and has enjoyed a population resurgence ever since.
 
As one of the world’s oldest sustainable development organizations, KKL-JNF is proud to be a partner in advancing the United Nation’s 2030 agenda for sustainable development in accordance with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
 
AWRC is an integral part of KKL-JNF’s efforts to promote biodiversity in its forests, parks and open spaces, as specified by the 15th SDG, which pertains to life on land: “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.
 
Since the field of wildlife rehabilitation and acclimatization is relatively new, we envision the Center not only as a pioneer of the field in Israel, but also as a center for innovative research that will contribute to the global knowledge pool of this burgeoning field, which is becoming increasingly urgent as the number of wildlife species on the “endangered” list continues to grow.