On Thursday, February 6 – 2014, a group of 24 foreign and Israeli journalists went on a field tour of bird-watching with Prof. Yossi Leshem, the pioneer of bird-watching in Israel. The tour began with boating in Lake of Galilee with thousands of Gulls flying near and over the boat, continued with Prof. Leshem’s presentation at Kfar Blum and ending with a magnificent view of the Hula Valley, where the journalists viewed the ringing station and the moving hide, with 30,000 Cranes flying to their night roosting site at the Hula Lake.
This tour was made possible by the grant of Peggy and Ed Robin of Encino, California.
Prof. Yossi Leshem is the most well-known ornithologist (bird researcher) in Israel. Yossi worked at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) since 1971, the leading NGO in Israel, was the CEO between 1991-1995, and acted as the SPNI council chairman, till 2011.
Leshem is a staff member in the Department of Zoology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University and is the founder and Director of the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration at Latrun, Israel.
Yossi is involved in many aspects of nature conservation, emphasizing bird research over 40 years. His research for his doctorate, which was conducted as cooperation of the Israeli Air Force, has resulted in a decrease of 76% in the number of collisions and has saved 900 million dollars, not to mention the numbers of lives.
Yossi flew 272 days with a motorized glider, wingtip to wingtip with millions of birds, to map the migration over Israel. He serves as Lt. Col. (Ret) in the Israeli Air Force and continues this research. In 2005 he won the prestigious Mike Kuhring Prize for achievements of high significance for an improved flight safety concerning the bird problems of aviation, and for his mission to connect safety with nature conservation via education that gave bird strike prevention world wide appreciation.
Leshem is involved in a variety of activities in bird migration research, in educational activities that take place in over 350 schools in Israel part of the cooperation with the Palestinians and the Jordanians, and has developed an Internet educational and scientific site (www.birds.org.il) called “Migrating Birds Know No Boundaries”. Yossi led several projects of using Barn Owls and Kestrels as Biological Pest Control Agents in Agriculture in Israel, Jordan and Palestinian Authority which became a success story even in tense periods.
Leshem is a Recipient of “Lifetime Achievement Award for Environmental Protection” in 2008, awarded on the sixty years events of the State of Israel, by the President and the Minister of the Environment, and in 2012 the prestigious Bruno H. Schubert Award (first place) in Germany.
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