During the 1950s, the goal was to dry the Hula swamps in order to combat malaria and create much-needed agricultural land. More recently, the need has been recognized to balance this approach with the opportunity to recreate the rich ecosystem that once flourished in the region, and to develop eco-tourism and other economic projects appropriate for the twenty-first century.
Before the Hula area was drained, the most notable mammal inhabitant was undoubtedly the herbivorous water buffalo, known by its Arabic name jamus. Historically, the water buffalo were a hallmark feature of this area. The local Bedouin population used the buffalo both for their milk and meat.
A new-born buffalo at Hula Lake Park, 2007. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
KKL-JNF is now reintroducing a breeding stock of buffalo into the area. While helping to restore the original fauna of the region, the buffalo reintroduction area is situated to the north of Lake Agmon, approximately ten kilometers south of Qiryat Shemona and a fenced site has been allocated for the reintroduction project on the northern bank of Lake Agmon.
This project symbolizes the aspiration to recreate something of the original character of this unique natural resource; the reintroduction of the buffalo will reinforce the ecological value of the restoration project, and will also enhance the appeal of the area for animal lovers, families and children visiting the valley.