Renowned Israeli Conservationist Speaks on Bird Species

Renowned Israeli Conservationist Speaks on Bird Species

By Jorjanna Price, Travis Audubon

Renowned Israeli conservationist Jonathon Meyrav will appear in Austin Wednesday, May 2, to discuss the tremendous richness of birds and wildlife of Israel as well as international work underway to protect birdlife and the natural habitat.

The event, sponsored by Shalom Austin, Travis Audubon and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, will be held May 2 at 7 p.m. at the Dell Jewish Community Center, 7300 Hart Lane.

Meyrav, director of tourism for the Israel Ornithological Center, travels widely to promote bird conservation in Israel and the eastern Mediterranean region. He and like-minded conservationists are working to curb the massive assault on birds—primarily illegal hunting and trapping—that occurs during annual migration flights to and from Eurasia and Africa. The killing of millions of birds each year has taken a major toll on species native to countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan and Egypt.

Birding since the age of 10, Meyrav grew up in an ideal location to learn about avian identification.

Israel hosts one of the most important avian corridors in the world. About 540 bird species have been recorded in that small country, from the Golan Heights to the granite peaks of the Eilot Mountains.

While studying at Ben Gurion College, Meyrav fell in love with desert birding and would spend days monitoring migrants for surveys and research programs. Now with sightings of more than 3,000 birds in 25 countries, he is considered Israel’s most experienced birding tour leader.

His current project is “Champions of the Flyway,” an international bird-a-thon held to raise funds and promote awareness of illegal bird kills. He coordinates teams of birders that compete to see the most number of birds in a 24-hour period. Financial sponsors behind each team donate funds to bird conservation. This year, the Flyway project will concentrate on illegal hunting and trapping in two countries, Croatia and Serbia. For more information, visit www.champions-of-the-flyway.com.

Meyrav lives in the small village of Shilat with his wife and three children. He is often on the road leading birding tours and working on conservation projects. Of his work he says: “I am a birder at heart and have been around birds my whole life. I am lucky to be a birder in Israel and now work for the birds.” ■

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