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Four ibexes die in suspected poisoning in southern Israel

Dead animals found in Mitzpe Ramon, in blow to endangered population of around 1,500; nature authorities to perform autopsies

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

One of the dead ibexes found in the southern town of Mitzpe Ramon on June 11, 2022, in a suspected poisoning incident.  (Yedidia Shmuel, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)
One of the dead ibexes found in the southern town of Mitzpe Ramon on June 11, 2022, in a suspected poisoning incident. (Yedidia Shmuel, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Three Nubian ibexes were found dead on Saturday in the southern desert town of Mitzpe Ramon, with a fourth, in serious condition, dying later, in what nature authorities suspect as poisoning.

The wild goats, endemic to the desert mountain chains of Jordan and Israel, are considered an endangered species, with fewer than 1,500 individuals estimated to remain in the wild.

Residents of Ein Akev Street reported the presence of the animals in a WhatsApp group.

Israel Nature and Parks Authority rangers scoured the area, but found no initial evidence of poison.

INPA vet Roni King said the animals’ bodies were taken for autopsy to determine the cause of death.

“The assumption at this stage is poisoning from an unknown source,” he said.

Last year, 12 poisoned griffon vultures were found in the Judean Desert, in a blow to a national population of only around 200.

A dead ibex found on July 15, 2017, following the collapse of an evaporation pond wall that released toxic waste water into the Ashalim stream in southern Israel. (Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

An amendment to the Wildlife Act proposed by Meretz lawmaker Mossi Raz to make it easier to catch and prosecute the perpetrators of such poisonings passed its first reading in the Knesset last year but has not progressed since then.

Five years ago, eight out of a group of 26 ibexes living further north in Israel, in the Judean Desert, were killed when tons of acidic slurry poured into the Ashalim stream near the Dead Sea

A collapse in the wall of a holding pool for phosphate — the waste product from making fertilizer — sent some 100,000 cubic meters of acidic water and other pollutants rushing through a popular hiking route.

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