LeChaim to the Cranes of the Hula Valley

Minister of the Environment is scheduled to launch the selling of a special
Carmel Mizrahi Merlot wine this month in support of the
on-going SPNI Israel Ornithological Center Crane project in the Hula
Valley. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the wine will be designated
to the project.

The Gray Crane is one of the
most beautiful and conspicuous birds that winters in Israel and the Hula
Valley is one of the most important sites for the cranes. Over 30,000 cranes
winter every year and for the most part stay throughout the winter months
[October-March]. Ever since agriculturists staring planting peanuts the number
of cranes has increased to a point that damage to crops reached an intolerable

The Crane project is the collaborative
effort of SPNI, Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority [INPPA]
and the agriculturists of the Valley to preserve the cranes and successfully
harvest peanuts.

The farmers put aside and planted
an area intended solely to serve the feeding needs of the majority of the
cranes and thus decrease the damage incurred on agricultural plantings as
a result of their feeding. In order to make the specific area attractive
to the cranes three tons of corn kernels are spread out everyday. In addition,
several actions have been implemented in order to reduce the amount of cranes
landing on the agricultural fields.

The success of the project is proven
by the fact that over 13,000 cranes are currently wintering in the Valley
and no damage has been done to the agricultural fields. Furthermore, efforts
to scare the cranes away have greatly been reduced resulting in a saving
of hundreds of thousands of shekels. The area has also become a major tourist
attraction in part due to the lookout point built by Keren Kayemet Le Israel
[KKL]. Over 50,000 visitors have come to the area since last October.

The project, the only of its kind
in Israel, is currently in its second year and has proved to be overwhelmingly
successful meeting the criteria of the agriculturists and conservationists.
To place an order of the Carmel Mizrahi Crane wine please contact Tania.

This article was written by Tania
Balazs Gvishi and published in the February 2002 edition of the Society for
the Protection of Nature in Israel monthly e-mail newsletter and is reprinted
with permission.

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Society for the Protection of Nature

4 Hashfela St.

Tel Aviv 66183, Israel

Tel: +972-3-6388697

Fax: +972-3-5374561

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