Troops rescue vulture ensnared on Israeli-Syrian border fence

Presumed dead after his GPS transmitter died, a Eurasian vulture, nicknamed 73B, was found alive but not hurt; IDF reserve troops managed to remove him to be delivered to the Safari in Ramat Gan for care and rehabilitation

In a rather ornithological twist, the 6226th Reconnaissance Regiment, part of the Paratroopers Reserves, found themselves playing a crucial role in a dramatic wildlife rescue. While routinely patrolling the Israel-Syria border, soldier Yosef Wolf spotted a vulture ensnared between two fences. Quick to act, the team reached out to their fellow regiment member, Dr. Uri Arieli, a veterinarian. Thus began the daring rescue of an endangered griffon vulture.
Rescuing the vulture from the Israel-Syria border line
(Video: Uri Arieli)
"The soldiers informed me about a large bird caught in the fence. I immediately coordinated with a veterinarian from the Nature and Parks Authority, who sent regional inspectors to free the trapped raptor," Arieli said. The vulture, in dire need of medical attention, was swiftly transported to the Wildlife Hospital at the Safari in Ramat Gan after receiving first aid.
Dr. Nitzan Adam, who treated the bird, described its condition. "The vulture arrived in shock, with a low body temperature. Initial tests showed it was extremely thin and dehydrated, and blood work suggested potential kidney damage. We're keeping it hospitalized and are evaluating if the kidney damage can be reversed."
As the vulture was being escorted to the hospital, inspectors from the Nature and Parks Authority identified it and were thrilled. The GPS transmitter the vulture had worn since its release had fallen off, leading many to believe it had perished.
Known as 73B, this vulture was part of the "Spreading Wings" project at the Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve, a key initiative for sustaining a healthy vulture population. Hatched in 2022 alongside four other vultures, 73B faced numerous challenges due to the ongoing war, which also affects wildlife.
Ohad, a bird ecologist with the Nature and Parks Authority, explained, "When the vultures were ready to fly and adapt to the wild, they were initially released in the Gamla area (Golan Heights). Due to the war's dangers, we moved them to a safer location. Once the situation stabilized, we returned them to Gamla for acclimation, and two months ago, they were set free."
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הנשר מקבל טיפול בבית החולים לחיות בר
הנשר מקבל טיפול בבית החולים לחיות בר
73B is going to be Okay
(Photo: The Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan)
Ohad has been closely monitoring the young vultures, worried about their ability to adapt. "This breeding cycle is struggling, possibly due to the war. One vulture sent a signal from a Turkish forest this week, and 73B got stuck on the border fence," he noted.
Tracking the vultures has become increasingly difficult due to GPS disruptions in the north, complicating efforts to monitor their wellbeing. "It's challenging to pinpoint why this cycle is facing difficulties, but we remain vigilant and hopeful that they will adapt and reproduce despite the obstacles," Ohad added. "For nature and humanity's sake, we hope the situation improves and the war ends."
The vulture population in Israel has recently suffered significant losses from two poisoning incidents, reducing their numbers to less than 170. The Nature and Parks Authority urges anyone who finds an injured vulture or other wildlife to contact their hotline at *3639, ensuring professional teams can be dispatched for rescue and treatment.
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