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Scouring Israel for the Elusive Golden Squirrel

Only in rare cases are entry permits granted to the slopes of Katef Sion, located on the western side of Mount Hermon. Ever since the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from Lebanon, permits are issued only in special cases such as a prayer held yearly, in the site where by tradition the Lord made his “Covenant of the pieces” with Abraham.

Last month, a group received a permit in order to carry out an even stranger activity: closely examining Katef Sion’s ancient oak trees, including the holes in the trunks, their height and the distance between the treetops.

After a short discussion, the group placed sophisticated, sensitive cameras in the area, before rubbing some brown paste on the branches near the cameras, and leaving the place.

Who were the mysterious strangers? A delegation searching for the golden-colored Caucasian squirrel, hoping to find the remains of a huge population that once flourished in Israel.

The delegation was headed by Amit Dolev, an ecologist for the northern district of the Nature and Parks Authority, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel’s Shmulik Yidov, and Ohad Maas, from the Society for the Preseveration of Nature in Israel.

“For many years people have wondered if the golden squirrel still exists in Israel or not”, Yidov, head of the SPNI’s Mammal Center, told Haaretz. “Now that we have the technological means to follow the squirrels without bothering them, we decided to seek the answer, and find out, once and for all.”

For more go to Haaretz

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