January 6, 2010, Updated September 24, 2012

Israel’s environmentalists and Israel Military Industries (IMI) are working together to help farmers and the environment and to boost the declining population of predatory birds.

The joint project turns old ammunition crates into nesting boxes for owls and kestrels, which then feast on the rodents that plague farmers’ crops. Use of predatory birds rather than pesticides is both beneficial to the environment and saves the birds that were often poisoned themselves after devouring toxic prey.

At 700 shekels a piece, wooden nesting boxes were proving prohibitively expensive for the farmers, but IMI offered them all the boxes they wanted, free of charge.

The project is run by Tel Aviv University in conjunction with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Agriculture and Environmental Protection ministries.

It started in 1983 with 12 boxes and now there are 2,000 boxes all over Israel, many of which are made of recycled wood.

One of the project’s goals is to encourage farmers to rely on predatory birds to curb the rodent population rather than on rodenticides, which are harmful to humans and the environment.

The project was recently expanded into Israel’s Arab sector.


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