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 user 2007-07-09 at 10:39:00 am Views: 68
  • #17976

    Israeli troops rescue rare eagles
    30-strong platoon of elite Israeli paratroopers has taken part in a
    mission to rescue a pair of rare golden eagles in the West Bank town of
    Hebron.The soldiers were called in by the Israel Nature and Parks
    Authority after it received information that the birds were being held
    in a house in the town.The eagles were eventually tracked down to a pet
    shop, confiscated and taken to a zoo. Two Palestinians were detained.

    Only six pairs of the eagles exist in the wild in Israel, the authority said.
    bird of prey has been threatened with extinction in recent years by
    poisoning, illegal hunting, the destruction of its habitat and a
    dwindling food supply.
    Many have also been trapped or stolen from nests and smuggled to the Gulf, where there is said to be a considerable demand.

    Cramped cages
    week, the INPA asked for support from the Israel Defence Force after
    being told two golden eagles were being kept in a house in Hebron.The
    town, which is home to about 120,000 Palestinians and several hundred
    Jewish settlers, has been a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian
    violence.On Thursday morning, soldiers from the Paratrooper Brigade’s
    202nd Battalion, supported by helicopters, searched the suspected home
    with an INPA ranger, Aviam Atar. The birds were not there, however.Mr
    Atar, protected by the paratroopers, then searched the surrounding
    neighbourhood and questioned local residents.They were eventually led
    to a pet shop in the town centre, where the two one-year-old eagles
    were found in cramped cages, although in a good condition.Mr Atar said
    the two Palestinian men detained for keeping the eagles gave
    conflicting accounts about how they had come by the birds.One said they
    had bought them in a market when they were chicks and hand-reared them,
    while the other man said they had bought them only recently.

    ‘Not the first time’
    birds were then confiscated and taken to the Tisch Family Zoological
    Gardens in Jerusalem.Mr Atar said the birds would unfortunately never
    be released back into the wild.”They have become used to people and
    cannot hunt,” he told the BBC.”However, their chicks will not have to
    stay at the zoo.”The ranger said at least five golden eagles had been
    stolen or trapped in the past three years.”This was not the first time
    and, unfortunately, not the last time this will happen,” he added.Last
    year, Mr Atar used another Israeli army unit to help him rescue two
    golden eagles from a group of Bedouin in the desert. The birds were
    found shackled in chains.