striped hyena Israel and other questions

Dear all

In early April I will be on a mammal/bird/herps trip to Israel. About top of my ‘want list’ is striped hyena. Mike Richardson recommends using  – although he didn’t see any with them. He also gives a site where he saw one with wolves. Does anyone else have any other recommendations of ways/places to see them or recommend guides for this species?

Also Mike saw Egyptian fruit bat in Tel Aviv but doesn’t say where. Is this a common species that a little drive round is likely to produce or should I get a site?

Most people use small mammal traps. Does anyone know the legal situation re these in Israel. I know they are legal in most countries but I have run into trouble in Spain, where they are most definitely not, which has made me a bit nervous.

Any other thoughts about mammal watching in Israel much appreciated.




  • Leslie Sokolow

    Egyptian fruit bags are abundant in urban areas. We saw them a small city plaza in Tel Aviv swooping around at night. I am certain that, if you can find a park with fruit-laden trees, there will be bats aplenty.

    You might try contacting the Jerusalem Bird Observatory about urban mammal-watching opportunities. We saw their resident (but wild) African Porcupine there one evening.

    You might also contact the folks at Hai Bar in Yotvata (in the Arava, not far from Eilat). This is a government-run conversation center where they breed and release endangered species (oryx, onagers, ostriches, etc.). They have a self-drive safari that was terrific. They might be able to advise you about hiring a guide or where hyenas can be seen. Their staff spends lots of time in the field.

  • zachharris67

    The small desert town of Mitzpe Ramon is a incredibly easy to see Nubian Ibex. I’ve seen them sometimes venture onto the streets to eat human trash.

  • EladN

    The Israeli law for animal compassion prohibits cruelty against animals (punishable by 3 years in prison, at least by law, court ruling are much more lax), and animal trapping might be considered as such. Furthermore, it prohibits trapping animals in urban areas.

    The law for protection of wildlife prohibits hunting without permit, and usage of traps and glue is specifically mentioned as prohibited under the law.
    Hunting is illegal around urban areas.
    Violation of this law is punishable by 1 year in prison (another source cites 2 years in prison).

    Unfortunately I have never seen hyenas in Israel, so I cannot help here. It is pretty hard spotting one. The Negev desert is probably the place to go.

    Regarding the Egyptian fruit bat, this is the common fruit bat in Israel, and is very easy to see.

    I do not live in Tel Aviv but a colleague told me any main street in Central Tel Aviv which has trees – for example King George, Rotschield, Dizingoff, Gordon is the place to be looking for them.

    In Rehovot (where I live) they are easy to see.
    Rehovot is about 30 minutes drive at off peak hours from Tel Aviv.

    During evening time it is usually easy to spot ones in my street (Yehiel Paldi).
    More spectacular is the Shabazi square (31°53’13.3″N 34°48’18.6″E or 31.887023, 34.805161), where they can be seen flying criss-cross around late evening or night.

    Another place to wander at night in Rehovot (11pm+, since earlier people doing sport on the sidewalk deter the wildlife) is the sidewalk of the eastern bypass road. I have spotted on this road in the past hedgehog, barn owl, rodents and a pack of 3 jackals (or were they foxes? I have seen them from too far to tell for sure)

    If you go slightly off the above road towards the bushes around
    31°53’33.3″N 34°49’45.5″E or 31.892589, 34.829301 there are a lot of rodents hiding in the vegetation (don’t stray too far – there are 4×4 vehicles travelling there at night, with questionable motives).

    In Tel Aviv a good suggestion to see wildlife might be to follow the Yarkon river (don’t dare touch the water) in an eatern direction towards Petah Tikva (Note that there is a crossing with a railway tracks and also there is a gate somewhere). Going the reverse direction from Petah Tikva along the Yarkon river there are certainly rodents around (went there for a walk one night as I work really close).

    Foxes and Jackels can be easily spotted night driving around the Byrya forest near Zefat (or at least used to be, since I last visited there there have been 2 forest fires there).

    There are loads of jackels (can be heard at least in the evening) in the Carmia sands reserve in southern Israel. Verify the security situation (e.g. that no rockets were shot from Gaza during the day or two before you visit) beforehand as it is few kms from the border with Gaza.

    The village of Gazit, in northern Israel (between Afula and the sea of the Galilee) is the entrance point to the Tavor stream reserve hiking trail. I have seen packs of Israeli deer in the reserve.

    The Hula Valley in northern Israel is a good place to see birds (I think in March they are on the migratory path back from Africa, so if you visit early April you might still see some), also some rodents (Nutria or river rat, an imported species, my wife pictured some few years ago). If you are on a night drive and very lucky jungle cats can be spotted.
    Note that there is a national park and what we call “the flooding” which is a locally managed area. The “flooding” is where you can arrange for the night drive, also rent bicycles to ride around.

    Eagles can be seen from the top of the Miron mountain reserve in the Galilee. I have seen a golden eagle perched on a fence in the eastern Golan Heights, just on the turnoff to once of the badly paved sideroads there.

    The Gamla reserve has (or at least had few years ago) vultures. They also used to be present in the Ein Ovdat in the south of Israel, but last time I have been there was as a kid.
    A friend of mine also saw wolves in the Golan Heights.

    The Evrona reserve near Eilat produced in December 2010 Flamingos (not sure if they will be present in April) in the southern area around the pool. The north-eatern part of the reserve, near the border with Egypt produced Israeli desert deer. Since then the reserve was flooded with oil spill so I am not sure if it has properly recovered.

    Boars can be spotted driving around at evening/night in northern Israel (be careful as hitting one is a nasty experience). They are a menace around parts of Haifa and also Zichron Yaakov, where they can probably be easily spotted at certain parts of the urban area.


  • EladN


    The Ein Gedi reserve have both Nubian Ibex and rock Hyrax. You might want to use insect repellent as the rock Hyrax are a mammal reservoir for Leishmaniasis and there are sporadic cases around eastern Israel, including the dead sea area (a daughter of a colleague of my wife from her previous place of work contracted it on a visit to the dead sea area few years ago).


  • Leslie Sokolow

    Since Elad mentioned Hula Reserve in the far north, I should add that I’ve seen Egyptian mongooses near Kibbutz Naot, near Hula. They are active during the day.

  • Jon Hall

    Steve, I suggest you talk to the guys at (they organise tours). I was talking to Jonathan Meyrav from there at the Birdfair . He said they have a great spot for Striped Hyena, and a super reliable area for Blanford’s Fox too. I think both are pretty much guaranteed from what I can remember.

  • Mike Richardson

    Hi Steve. We saw the Egyptian Fruit Bats on a random tree lined Tel Aviv street as we corrected a wrong turn shortly after leaving the airport. They were easy to see as they swooped down over the road and I suspect visiting any area of trees in Tel Aviv late at night would produce the bats.

    There is another vulture feeding area in the Negev near Sde Boker although it’s very difficult to find even with directions. Haim from Negev Jeep will most likely visit it if he knows you want to see Wolves or Hyena. The key with the vulture feeding areas is finding one with a fresh carcass. I don’t know how often carcasses are placed at the feeding stations but I suspect it’s not very often.

  • stevebabbs

    Many thanks to every one for all your help.

  • Tomes

    The vulture feeding station in the Ramon crater does occasionally have hyena there.. But I got a tip from Jonathan Meirav (the same guy Jon mentioned) that spotlighting in the hills behind Shoham would be a good place for hyenas as well. I was only there once, on the way back from Jerusalem and didn’t see one, and I also had a really weak flashlight, but I did spot a mustelid which would have been either stone marten or marbled Polecat (they do exist in the area, but I’ve never heard of any reliable place to see them here)

    I also still need to see the striped hyena, so if you want company to let me know. And the Bradford’s fox, so I’m going to contact the guys Jon linked here 🙂

  • stevebabbs


    Is spotlighting a okay in Israel? I’m sure that I’ve read that it can be an issue because of hunting.

    I’m going to contact Jon’s recommendation too. I’m happy to team up if you’re free on the dates we’re looking.

    • EladN

      The wildlife protection law prohibits “Hunting” by “Blinding using lights”.

      So my guess is once you point your flash-light into the animal’s eyes you are breaking the law.


  • tomeslice

    Yeah, it’s officially not allowed, especially inside of reserves.

    I’ve spotlit in a couple of “remote” places and nobody ever said anything (it’s not like anybody ‘patrols’ the roads, especially ones in the desert and especially not outside nature reserves) So the hills behind Shoham is a good place.

    When Mike Richardson was in Israel, I wrote them a note in Hebrew that they would show a cop if they were questioned about spotlighting. It explains basically that they were nature photographers and wouldn’t cause any harm to the animals they saw. But they never had to use it.

    Haim Berger of Negev Jeep runs spotlighting trips with his special permit at Midreshet Ben Gurion, and he sometimes sees the hyenas, sometimes wolves, porcupines, hedgehogs, badgers and very rarely caracals.
    Agamon Ha-Hula do spotlighting in their reserve and often see the jungle cat, especially in April-May.

    Yes, I do want to team up, as I really want to see the hyena 🙂 I’ll talk to you on Facebook

  • Bert Haamberg

    Dear All,

    within a day or ten we will visit israel for some birding and mammalwatching action. I saw in the previous reply’s a site good for striped hyena in the hills behind Shoham. I presume this area is east of shoham city?

    Could someone give me a bit more specific a good location for spotlighting around that area?

    Best regards


    • tomeslice

      Hi Bert,

      They seem to be more and more common around Modi’in, and in general. Even photographed crossing streets in the middle of Jerusalem. I think I’m the last person in Israel who hasn’t seen one yet (but honestly it’s mostly for the lack of trying).

      I will facebook message a couple of guys and hopefully get some leads for you. If you want, I’d be happy to join you for a later afternoon/night drive to try to find one. Or if you would rather go alone, I’ll just give you the location and you can let me know if it’s worth me going there 🙂


  • Mike Richardson

    I maybe wrong (perhaps Tomer can confirm) but I think the hyena near Shoham are mainly found in the hills to the east of highway 6, and not necessarily around the forest park. I’ve tried spotlighting the forest park several times late on a weekend when the garbage bins were overflowing with food waste and I only saw Red Fox (in surprisingly low numbers considering the free food on offer). Golden Jackals are also present.

    To my knowledge (and again I’m happy to be corrected) but the area outside the forest park is a military zone and is only accessible on a weekend. Presumably a vehicle with high ground clearance would be useful if you plan to explore this area.

    • tomeslice

      Mike I think you might be right.

      I asked 2 lead birders in Israel and these are the answers I received:

      1. Hi Tomer. Yes – the hyenas are doing well in Israel, but it’s not easy to see them. There’s a good chance if you’re looking around Mitzpe ramon at night, especially around the vineyards near “Bahad1” (military base).

      2. Hi Tomer, the truth is that I don’t have a specific location I can send people to, other than the feeding stations near Sde Boker. Indeed there are an increasing number of sightings in the Shfela region and in the vicinity of the cities Modi’in and Reut. If I know of a specific place, i’ll let you know.
      he then proceeded to say about the hills of Modi’in: “They prefer the hills and not the forest”

      I would really like to see one myself.. I hope this helps. Mike got lucky at one of the feeding stations. They shouldn’t be that hard to find…


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