The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) routinely monitor wolf populations in the western part of the Negev desert, but what they found this week was unusually delightful. Nestled between the trees of a lemon orchard, there lives a family of wolves — a father, a mother and seven little ones.
"A farmer reported spotting a wolf den within an agricultural area. He was trimming the lemon trees when he suddenly noticed a hole that resembled a den," INPA inspector Moran Lachish tells Ynet.
We placed trail cameras to confirm that they were wolves and were in for a big surprise — a whole family showed up. The den interfered with the farmers pruning the lemon trees in the orchard. We are happy that the farmers agreed to our request and waited with the pruning so as not to disturb the wolves and the pups."
Yanai Bonneh, a nature photographer and volunteer who helps INPA inspectors to document and monitor the local wolf population, said that he was excited to stumble upon wolf pups after mostly seeing adult wolves up until now.
"Over the last year I have only seen adult wolves and now for the first time I have documented wolf pups, this is a special and exciting event for me," he says.
"My greatest passion in life is photography and helping the [INPA] in protecting wildlife only adds it so ."
Only a few dozen wolves live in the western part of the Negev. Their diet consists mostly of rabbits, rodents, foxes and deer, including some fruit and veggies when prey is scarce.
Wolves are unlikely to attack humans and will likely flee upon spotting one approach.
However, wolves have become accustomed to finding food near humans. Sometimes they also find shade and water inside the orchards.
Feeding any wildlife is illegal in Israel under animal harassment laws.