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Buzzards ("Egyptian eagles") born in Israel, disappeared in Yemen - where found thanks to volunteers in Poland and Portugal through watching YouTube

Photo: Yossi Avgana
Photo: Yossi Avgana

Cross-border "Identification of missing persons" operation: two raccoons (Egyptian eagles), whose tracks were lost in 2021 in Yemen, were identified by volunteers from Poland and Portugal, by watching the YouTube channel: "Charter Group Birdcams Online Charter Group Birds", by Dr. Muti Charter from the university and the Shamir Research Institute. "Just like the eagles that know no borders and fly across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, my affection for eagles ignores international borders. When I started watching the cameras I became aware of the effort to monitor and preserve the birds of prey in Israel. I follow and watch out of empathy and a desire to help the bird of prey conservation project," said Rosa Xavier from Portugal, who recognized one of the mercies and volunteers in editing the video.

When Dr. Charter started his YouTube channel Birds Online Charter Group, he also did not believe that his followers would be so sharp-eyed. The channel allows viewers from all over the world to follow the daily life of birds, especially birds of prey, from owls through ospreys to eagles, using cameras that broadcast live from the nesting sites 24/7 all year round. Over 115,000 members and over 90 million views make the site the largest nature channel in Israel, with followers coming from all over the world, including 13 volunteers who coordinate the observations and spend many hours watching and updating Dr. Charter on unusual occurrences and phenomena.

At the beginning of the month, he received an update from Marcin Zidron from Poland, who told him that he had identified on cameras located at a feeding station for the eagles in Hai Bar in Carmel buzzard that he does not know. buzzard is a small species of vulture that is in danger of extinction and it is important to follow and monitor every detail, so Zidron hastened to update Dr. Charter. Zidron also provided the number of the small cybonic ring he identified on the leg of the uterus: IB9. About two weeks later, Dr. Charter received another report, this time about two raccoons, again from Hai Bar, and this time from Rosa Xavier from Protogal. One of them was again IB9 and next to it was another uterus, even number IB3.

Dr. Charter hastened to report to PhD student Ran Efrat from Ben Gurion University, who researches and monitors the raccoons in Israel, and his answer was extraordinary: these are two raccoons that hatched in the wild as part of the "Forishim Kanaf" breeding project of the Nature and Parks Authority in cooperation with the Electricity Company and the Society for the Protection of Nature in June 2020 and the connection With them he was lost in 2021, when they were in the Yemen region. "Before their release into the wild in December 2020, GPS transmitters were attached to them and they went on a wandering journey towards Saudi Arabia and Yemen. In August 2021, two days apart, the GPS transmitters stopped transmitting signals from the Yemen region, their fate was unclear and the working assumption was that they did not survive. Thanks to this observation, we understand that the survival of the raccoon population is higher than we previously thought", said Efrat.

According to Dr. Charter, the fact that two amateur observers are the ones who identified the merganser, an endangered species, through watching the Charter Group's Birds Online YouTube channel, highlights the enormous importance of citizen science in protecting wildlife.

"Birds Online Charter Group aims to connect people from all walks of life to the wonders of bird life. These observations are an example of how through the lens of technology, each and every one of us can foster awareness of the conservation of winged animals and make a significant contribution to scientific knowledge. The power of citizen science is on full display with the re-emergence of these mercies. This highlights the importance of collaboration between passionate people around the world to protect and preserve our precious wildlife," said Dr Charter.

About a week ago, the University of Haifa was ranked among the 200 best universities in the world in the sustainability index of Times Higher Education and in 45th place in the world in the category of "protection of animals on earth". The research and citizen science projects led by Dr. Charter are part of the reasons for the high ranking of the University of Haifa in this category.

Photo: Yossi Avgana

            The video clip of the mercy watched on the YouTube channel:

To watch and join the Charter Group Birdcams channel:

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