Israel Nature and Parks Authority and paratroopers from the Israel Defense Forces carried out an unusual rescue mission recently in the city of Hebron, south of Jerusalem.
Soldiers from the IDF, together with a ranger from INPA, raided a shop in Hebron and recovered two Golden Eagles, both in good condition. The birds were taken to the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem where it will be decided whether to release them back into the wild or whether they will have to spend the rest of their lives in captivity.
The population of many raptors in the region have been suffering the depredations of wildlife rustlers and traders. The Judean Desert is one of the last big refuges for birds of prey in Israel with populations of large eagles (Golden and Bonelli's) as well as a large concentration of vultures. Most of the birds that are trapped or stolen from nests are taken for sale in the territories or smuggled to the Gulf states, where there is considerable demand for many of these birds.
It is estimated that in the past there were nearly 50 nesting pairs of Golden Eagles in the desert areas of Israel and the territories. During the past two decades their number has decreased by 50 percent, and the species is in grave danger of vanishing altogether.