During my trip to Israel I’ve found a kibbutz where rare animals mentioned in the Bible are being reintroduced into their natural environment.
The original kibbutzim were highly regarded in the West and have long attracted idealistic young volunteers from all over the world. The new eco-kibbutzim offer an opportunity to work on the land, but also to learn how farming is gradually changing as new environmentally-friendly techniques are created and old ones rediscovered. I also discovered some very futuristic sustainability projects.
Last year Sue and I visited one of these, Kibbutz Lotan to the south of the country, close to Eilat and Jordan. Fortunately for us it was winter so the temperature was a cool thirty degrees or so, rather than the 40-degree plus summer desert heat Lotan dwellers are more used to.
Three kibbutzim with fascinating environmental initiatives:
1. Kibbutz Lotan
As well as offering eco-tourism in its low energy mud-brick rooms Lotan hosts a permaculture centre offering a four week Sustainable Development & Permaculture Design Certification, a one week eco-experience work immersion and practical workshops in local food production, natural building, sustainable community and alternative technologies.
2. Kibbutz Yotvata
On Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve endangered and locally extinct animals mentioned in the Bible are bred for possible reintroduction to the Negev desert.
Species bred include:
▪ Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx)
▪ Scimitar oryx (Oryx dammah)
▪ Red-necked ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus)
▪ Addax (Addax nasomaculatus)
▪ Asian wild ass (hybrids of Equus hemionus kulan and Equus hemionus onager)
▪ Somali wild ass (Equus africanus somaliensis)
▪ Caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi)
▪ Arabian sand cat (Felis margarita harrisoni)
▪ Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr)
▪ South African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus)
▪ Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs)
▪ Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas)
▪ Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus)
▪ Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana)
▪ Persian leopard (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica)
▪ Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena)
3. Kibbutz Ketura
Apart from the massive Arava solar farm Kibbutz Ketura houses Alga Technologies, which produces sustainable antioxidants using solar energy and purified water from local boreholes, 80% of which is recycled.