Israel's biblical vultures under threat

By Jennifer Lipman, August 27, 2010
Griffon vultures are mentioned by Job and Jeremiah

Griffon vultures are mentioned by Job and Jeremiah

Scientists believe that a bird species mentioned in the bible is under threat of dying out because of farming methods in northern Israel.

The number of griffon vultures in the Golan Heights is thought to have dropped to under ten, due to the illegal use of pesticides to prevent wolves and jackals from attacking farm animals.

Oll Spiegel, a scientist whose Phd thesis is on the species, has blamed the decline on the use of poison to deter wolf attacks on cattle.

“It's usually the main reason for adult vulture deaths.” The vultures eat the poisoned carcasses of the wolves and then die themselves.

The area was once home to the largest population of the birds in the Middle East, and ecologists at the Gamla nature reserve are working to train them to avoid eating the poison.

The species is referred to several times in the bible including in the books of Jeremiah and Psalms.

A verse in the book of Job reads: “'She [the vulture] dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.”

Last updated: 12:27pm, October 14 2010