Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mandatory Prison Time for Convicted Animal Abusers

Stop Animal Abuse
Over two-thirds of the Knesset members from across the political spectrum have expressed support for a bill to imprison people convicted of animal abuse.

Animal abuse is already illegal in Israel. Under the current law, an individual convicted of animal abuse, torture or cruelty can face up to three years in prison or a maximum fine of NIS 226,000 (about $60,000).

The bill would mean jail time for anyone convicted of animal abuse, removing the option of paying a fine, and increasing the maximum sentence for such an offense from three to five years.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Injured Israeli Swift Gets Feather Transplant

Swifts are peculiarly beloved birds. What is interesting about them is that they never stop flying. They eat, mate and even sleep on the wing, only landing to nest. Swifts that can't fly, die.

So the young adult swift a bemused Tel Aviv couple found flapping around squeaking in their bathroom would have been doomed, but they brought it to the Wildlife Hospital of the Nature and Parks Protection Authority and Safari Gardens. The hospital diagnosed broken flight feathers, and consulted with the Director of the Frankfurt Swifts Clinic, Dr. Christiane Haupt, a world expert in treating and rehabilitating swifts.

As luck would have it, biologist Tina Steigerwald was about to come to Israel to volunteer at the animal hospital. She harvested feathers from a dead German swift, and prepared them with strong but light carbon fibers. She then flew to Israel with the feathers and equipment needed for surgery, and in a two-hour operation, transplanted them to the Israeli bird, a process called "imping" that was originally developed for falconry.

The Israeli swift turned out to need six new feathers in its left wing and one in the right.

One can't just take turkey feathers and glue them to the swift. Because of its airborne lifestyle, the feather match had to be exact so the bird could survive in the wild afterwards. Feather lengths had to be accurate to a tenth of a millimeter, and the attachment angle was also crucial.

In preparation for living aloft, the baby swifts spend over 40 days in the nest, which is very long for such a small bird. They have only one chance to get out of the nest. Once a swift gets out and flies, he keeps flying for about two or three years.

When nesting in Israel, the birds leave the nest in the spring, and within the space of a few weeks, migrate to Africa. They spend the winter there and come back as young swifts. That migratory cycle continues until the swift finds a mate and start nesting. The parents take turns sitting on the eggs, then feeding the chicks.

Adults weigh about 45 grams, and for such a tiny bird, they do live long. Other birds that size usually live four to six years, ten at the most. The oldest known adult swift found in nature was 21.

Caring for a caged swift is some trick, since they're high-strung and only eat on the fly, literally. Put on a pile of bugs, a swift wouldn't know what to do. When swifts are in therapy, they need to be fed six or seven times a day, during daylight hours, by gently opening their beaks and pushing in bugs. They're very smart and emotional. If you're not nice to them, they become agitated and don't make it.

Our swift recovered from the anesthetic after a couple of hours, was kept warm and once himself again, was fed on lovely insects and vitamin supplements. He also underwent daily training to improve his wing use. Once he had put on weight and reached 42 grams, he was released on the zoo grounds and headed straight for Tel Aviv.

Source; Haaretz

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Let It Rain!

Ramla biofilter integrated as part of the street
Two hundred million cubic meters of rainwater go to waste in Israel every year. They flow through the city streets, pick up a variety of toxic substances and continue to the coast, where they pollute the beaches and the sea and harm marine life.

The innovative bio-filter technology developed in Australia and promoted in Israel by KKL-JNF is designed to allow this rainwater to be utilized in order to avoid pollution and maintain sustainable groundwater levels. It transforms a nuisance into a valuable resource.

Two new bio-filter facilities established by KKL-JNF in Ramla and Bat Yam demonstrated their efficiency during Israel’s recent rainstorms. They are designed to collect surface runoff water, purify it via environmentally friendly physical and biological methods, and then channel it into the aquifers as clean water. These new bio-filters join an older one that has been operating successfully in Kfar Sava for a number of years.

The monitoring systems installed in the three bio-filters show that the technology is operating extremely well: the polluted runoff water that enters the facility leaves it purified almost to the point of being fit for drinking. This treated water can then be injected into the groundwater or else used to irrigate gardens and crops of all types. The data show that 99.99% of the pollutants are removed from the water by the bio-filter treatment.

The bio-filter installation contains a number of layers of sand and vegetation. The top layer is covered with special plants that help to purify the water. The lower layers, which are not aerated, provide a habitat for a colony of bacteria that flourish in an oxygen-poor environment and have a large appetite for pollutants, including heavy metals, organic matter and oils. These bacteria encourage processes that purify the water.

Each bio-filter has a capacity of around 100 cubic meters. During the last rainfall episode, which continued for several days, each of the facilities filled up and emptied three times, purifying a total of around 300 cubic meters of water. Over the course of a single year, this could amount to thousands of cubic meters, depending on the quantity of precipitation.

In the dry season, when there is no rain, water can be pumped from contaminated wells, purified, and, once clean, either restored to the same well or added to the groundwater. This process has been described as dialysis of the aquifer.

There are a few fringe benefits provided by the bio-filter project.

Bio-filters significantly reduce flooding during heavy rainfalls and relieve the strain on the municipal drainage system.

It also creates attractive green neighborhood gardens that the local people can enjoy. Visitors to the bio-filter who expect to be confronted with a dismal-looking purification plant are in for a pleasant surprise, as the facility consists of attractive plant-filled pools surrounded by footpaths and bicycle trails.

This innovative project is defined as an experimental pilot, and researchers are still investigating various aspects of its functioning: bio-filters of different sizes, different types of vegetation and the quality of the water after purification. This work is being carried out under the auspices of a center for research into water-sensitive cities in Israel, which was established jointly by KKL-JNF Israel, JNF Australia and four academic institutions: Technion (Haifa), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Beersheba) and Monash University of Melbourne, Australia.

Source: Jewish National Fund