Thursday, September 16, 2010

Don't Feed the Ibex

Everyone knows you're not supposed to feed wild animals. It makes them become dependent on human hand outs, the food may disagree with them and sicken them, and food packaging may get stuck in their gut and kill them. Still, people feed the Ibex and they have become dependent on it. Even if they don't eat from people's hands they frequent the many garbage bins in Mitzpe Ramon, looking for a fast meal. So attractive is human food waste to wild animals that the best places to see porcupines, fox, wolves and hyenas is around a garbage dump or garbage bin. In fact, when we went on a night time desert tour to find wild animals we spent almost all of our time around Kibbutz vineyards, hen houses, and food dumps. Even wild animals appreciate an easy meal.

The Ibex are fed regularly by humans in Mitzpe Ramon. Sometimes you will see a car laden with spoiled vegetables stop by the Machtesh and cartons of vegetables will be thrown out which they greedily devour. I have been stopped by traffic jams in Mitzpe Ramon caused by a herd of Ibex queuing up to eat vegetable handouts. And tourists and locals alike tempt them with bread to bring them close for hand feeding and viewing. One of the dangers here is that they will swallow plastic packaging which will cause an intestinal blockage, killing the animal.

Now that it's August the Ibex have come to town where they are frequently fed by children and others.

Neighborhood children feed Ibex potatoes.

I even got into the game, bringing out some over ripe peaches for the Ibex to enjoy.

An Ibex enjoys a peach.

An old male Ibex enjoys an apple.

It's hard to believe these creatures can climb a vertical wall in a flash.

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