Waste not

Ahead of reopening, Israelis urged to keep nature clean

Beaches and national parks brace for throngs of visitors after the lockdown is eased, but crowds means trash — and it’s the animals that suffer

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

With the easing of the coronavirus lockdown on Sunday, Israelis are expected to once again converge on the country’s beaches and national parks.

But if the period following the country’s first lockdown is anything to go by, that means not only crowds of people, but also piles of trash.

Rangers and photographers working with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority have filmed what can happen to wildlife when visitors leave tin cans, plastic wrappers, wet wipes, and other forms of detritus behind.

Some lucky creatures were freed by angers from the trash traps. They include a young fox with its head stuck in a plastic bottle, a sea turtle entangled in a plastic jute bag, a hedgehog with its head trapped in tin, a gazelle nibbling a discarded wet wipe, a rock hyrax with its head in a chips bag, and a fox playing with a piece of plastic.

A mongoose walks among trash, from a presentation by MK Miki Haimovich during a Knesset Interior Affairs and Environment Committee meeting on waste, June 2, 2020. (Osnat El-Az, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel).

Shaul Goldstein, director general of the Nature and Parks Authority, said, “We have a wonderful country, full of natural and heritage values, ​​but it is drowning in trash, and it is impossible to continue like this. On the other hand, we are in a complex period, with many people without employment.

“In a project that I initiated together with the Finance Ministry, we are employing 500 people in nature conservation, invasive species care and land clearing tasks. I call on the public to join the mission because we care about our country.”

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