2178 Years after the Maccabbees, their land is part of a new conflict
After a short car ride Drew, Judith, and I arrived in Modi'in. The purpose of our trip was simple, to learn about SPNI's urban community branches called kehilot. Little did I know, I was walking into a place of rich history and passion. We were greeted by Tali and a devoted volunteer named Hadas. We sat around a small table and discussed where we would visit for the day and the current development projects going on in the Modi'in-Reut area. Tali was very excited to explain discuss a hill that SPNI had successfully protected from the development plans; this hill is called Titura.
Titura is a hill that is on the edge of Modi'in where the only building visible on the hill is a water tower. However, Titura also has a rich history. This hill is rumored to have been inhabited by the Maccabbees and where the successful revolt that we celebrate during Hannukah. This hill is also the location of another important battle, the battle to preserve it. Modi’in was going to expand and plans were drawn up that would cause development to occur on Titura. The people who lived next to the hill and enjoyed looking at it everyday were strongly against losing a beautiful sight. With the help of SPNI, a new plan was created that would save the hill. After seeing Titura in person, I understood why they wanted to protect it so badly. From the top of the hill you can see most of Modi’in and if you face the other direction you see a beautiful landscape.
Category: Nature Trips
"Big Brother"- SPNI version! For the first time in Israel, SPNI installs night vision cameras in the natural environment of animals in order to learn about their behavior without disrupting their daily routine.
Many of the travelers throughout Israel have heard time and and time again of the leopards, foxes, or rare animals that are lurking close by. All though our travel guides mean well, we almost never actually see the animals. There are, of course, exceptions, such as the abundance of ibex at beautiful reserve in Sde Boker, doubling as David Ben Gurion's burial place.
Several months ago, the Mammal Department of SPNI decided to make it possible for guides and travelers alike to experience the animals that we usually read about in the books, such as the infamous "cliff fox" which was recently discovered to still be in existence, thanks to our cameras.
Under the Mammal Department's direction, SPNI guides began installing special, high-resolution cameras which would follow the daily lives of animals in Israel, all without disturbing their daily routines. The cameras are installed in distant places known to be on the paths of wildlife, where there is little or no disturbance. Their placement in natural habitats allows us to learn more about local wildlife and share images with the world.
Environmental Education in Gush Halav takes a fun twist
In the heart of the Upper Galilee, an elementary school in the northern village of Gush Halav decided to launch an educational project whose goal was to connect and learn about the local environment. As a team effort of our Mammal Department, the Gush Halav Elementary School, and the Western Galilee Eco-Community Center, the students researched and surveyed the natural forest surrounding their community through special night-vision cameras that were installed in the natural environment of local wildlife. One of the higlights of the project was a full photo album of a family of foxes.
To see the full photo album, click here.
We'd like to congradulate the 5th grade class of the Gush Halav elementary school for their marvelous effort!
Original Article in Hebrew
'Nahal Taninim' and the missing crocodiles....
Nahal Taninim gets its name from the presense of crocodiles in the stream, dating back to Roman times. When I heard that I would get a chance to visit Nahal Taninim, and perhaps see some crocodiles in real life I couldn't wait to go! I asked our awesome tour guide, Uri, if he would show me where the few remaining crocs lay a few days before my trip, and he said "of course!".
There were a few legends as to how the crocodiles got there in the first place. In the first legend, there were twin brothers who ruled the ancient city Caesarea. One of the brothers suffered from leprosy and as a result would often have to bathe in the water. His brother, who wished to be the sole ruler, introduced the crocodiles into the river so that he could feed them- with his brother (!) thus leaving him the sole ruler of the land! Apparently he succeeded...
|Crocodiles Were Once Part of the Landscape|
The ancient name, Crocodilopolis, dating back to Persian and Helenistic periods suggest that crocodiles were present in the river since that time. It is more likely that the crocodiles were brought for the gladiator games held in neighboring Caesarea by the Romans. Regardless of how they got there, I was really excited to see them!
When I arrived, I quickly started to search the stream waters. I saw a few different animals, but no crocodiless. "Where are the crocodiles!?" I asked Uri.
"Oh, they haven't been around since 1912!" he said. "What!? Are you sure?!" I exclaimed. "It's true, they have been hunted into extinction". Apparently I had been fooled. Oh well, serves me right for being so gullible! After all, surely after six years of living in Israel I would have heard about crocodiles living in some stream by now.
Despite my disappointment, I was at least happy to see this sign- the only of homage paid to our scaley friends of yore. Uri proceded to tell us the story behind what we were seeing all around us, and the history was pretty neat.
The History of the Dam
Apparently the whole point of this ancient establishment was for the Romans to raise water levels in order to supply the ancient city of Caesarea with additional water. A dam was erected (as you can see in the picture), and water was diverted to a network of channels that flowed downhill.
|Part of the Ancient Channels|
The dam contiuned to function into the Byzantine period, and six flour mills were dug near the dam, operated by the power of water that flowed through the channels.
The Regulatory Water Device
A regulartory water device was established, which regulated the water that was channeled into the low-level aqueduct and to the neighboring flour mills. During the Byzantine period, another channel was dug, which directed the water directly to the flour mills. After Caesarea's decline, the low-level aqueduct and the flour mills fell out of use.
|The Regulatory Water Device|
Crocodilopolis through the Ages
In the year 636, the area was destroyed by the Arab invasion of the 7th century. The area lied in wait until it was revitalized by the Crusaders and used on and off until the 14th century.
|One of the Water Mills|
|The Pipe Factory|
The Pipe Factory
The Kabara Swamp was successfully drained between 1922 and 1932. A clay pipe factory was established here by the Baron de Rothschild, who purchased the land in the Kabara valley in order to develop the area. Unfortunately, the manufacture of the pipes here was unsuccessful, and clay pipes that were imported from France were used to drain the swamp instead. The drainage was accomplished by crisscrossing the 6,000 dunams of swamp with a network of pipes, the total length of which was 50 kilometers. The pipes capped 3,000 springs and directed their flow to an outlet channel.
|Nahal HaTaninim- The Crocodile Stream|
If you're lucky, your guide might even open the waterways so you can see the water wheels in action!
Category: Nature Trips
Winter rains bring abundance of water
That’s me in the center
The Banias falls is about 3.5 kilometres downstream from the spring. It is said to be more impressive during the winter or early spring, but the park is green and beautiful and worth a visit all year round.
Because of all the rain in Israel this year the water levels were much higher then usual. As you can see this natural area is beautiful.
It doesn't matter what part of the trail you are on, there is always something beautiful to see. Take a second to breath in the fresh air and listen to the surrounding beauty, it is a very wonderful and refreshing feeling. This hike really brings you closer to nature.
Make sure to leave time for observing, you never know what you will find.
|This is a picture of some caterpillars I found eating a leaf.
There had to be at least 20 of them eating the same plant.
This area is a great place to spend time with friends and family and to be one with nature. Enjoy the environment and all it can offer you, if you do you’ll see things you would never be able to imagine.
To the springs - about 3 km east of Kibbutz Snir on road 99 (Kiryat Shmona-Mas’adeh)
To the waterfall-- about 2 km east of Kibbutz Snir on road 99
April-September: 8 A.M. -5 P.M.
October-March: 8 A.M.-4 P.M.
Entrance to site up to one hour before closing.
On Fridays and Holiday Eve, the site closes one hour earlier.
Category: Nature Trips
SPNI and the Bedouin Community
|Social and Environmental Leadership Program participants|
|Garden at the school|
|Herb garden at the school|
|Trees planted at the school|
|Students playing games- learning about garbage and recycling|
|Two of the students showing each other the recycling label on the bottom of a plastic bottle|
|Playing games- The teacher was quizzing us on the information we learned in class|
|Display of items the students made out of recycled materials|
|Learning about compact fluorescent light bulbs|
|An award that was given to the program by the government|