Endangered mammal deadly blow to Palestinian farmers



Ramallah: A small mammal at risk of extinction might seem an unusual source of stress for humans, but an influx of rock hyrax on Palestinian farms near the Israeli segregation wall is creating an added burden for famers in the area.

The uncharacteristically wide and dense spread of this omnivorous animal has caused farmers heavy losses as the animals eat all available vegetation.

Palestinian farmers have alleged that Israeli colonists have released a large numbers of rock hyrax behind the Israeli wall with the aim of harming Palestinian land.

The affected farmers claim it has taken them great efforts to learn the animal’s name and that they have been unable to handle the influx.

Hassan Zaid, a Palestinian farmer, said that the animal locally named “Al Wabar Al Sakhri” eats both green and dried grass and trees leaving the farmers with serious losses.

“The animal does not leave anything thing behind and our lands have been destroyed.”

Zaid said that the animal lives between rocks and has taken to using holes in the Palestinian side of the Israeli wall as shelter.

“We have been complaining to the Palestinian authorities and have urged them to address the issue of the wide spread of this animal with the Israeli side,” he told Gulf News.

“The only answer we have got from the Palestinian authorities is a claim that they have no solution.”

Palestinians, farmers and officials have also been accusing the Israelis, mainly the colonists, of releasing a large number of wild pigs into the Palestinian territories to destroy the farms.

The release of those animals has caused the deaths of at least three Palestinian farmers and injury to several others after wild pigs attacked people in their farms. The wild pigs also cause major destruction of cultivated lands.

Speaking to Gulf News, Emad Al Atrash, who heads the Palestinian Wildlife Association, warned against killing the rock hyrax which is on the verge of extinction.

“Killing the rock hyrax is banned and the farmers should not even think of this option at all,” he said.

“The way the rock hyrax should be handled must be different from the way the wild pigs are handled.”

“The rock hyrax is mainly a grass and plant eater with an incredible ability to climb. The lack of food and the dry weather has forced the animal to move to the coastal areas of the Palestinian territories,” he said.

He said “farmers should build cement walls around their houses to avoid attacks,” he said.

“The animal however should not be killed or trapped,” he stressed.